Series follows amateur musical actors

Admit it – you’ve always wanted to be on Broadway. You watch shows like Mama Mia, or Chicago, or West Side Story, and say to yourself, ‘I’d love to do that!’

Well, for 21 ordinary Torontonians, that dream came true. They participated in Bravo’s original Canadian series, Way Off Broadway, and were part of a production of everyone’s favourite musical, The Wizard of Oz.

Theatrical Director Sarina Condello “plastered the Danforth with audition requests” and interviewed dozens of potential applicants There is a scene on the DVD we received where she is desperately seeking men to audition, to the point of asking them randomly on the street!

The series follows these 21 amateur – but eager – thespians as they go from introducing themselves to each other in the basement of Eastminster Church on Danforth, through 13 one-hour episodes of learning to let go and be silly,  to overcoming their fears of being on stage, to getting their parts, rehearsing them, and eventually staging the play in front of a live audience of 1,100 people…. all in just eight weeks. Four of the cast and crew are from the Beach/Riverdale area.

Sheila Philcox is the company’s Musical Director.  Sheila has a Bachelor of Music from the University of British Columbia, and her ARTC in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music. For the past 13 years she has been involved in many musical endeavours, including being musical director for Learning By Heart Studio, several community theatre productions, teaching music at various summer camps, and acting as a coach for musicians and performers. For this production she worked closely with the Director, Sarina Condello.

LeeAnne Rorabeck has her Bachelor of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University, and has been singing since she was a child. She appeared in several theatre productions, but over the years her career as a marketing fundraiser for the arts has taken precedence to her singing. Now she has realized a life-long dream to reconnect with her theatrical side.

“It was in my earliest years that I realized I wanted to sing for the rest of my life,” LeeAnne says.

Tazyia Lakkotrypis, or Taz as she likes to be called, has a background in hotel and culinary management, and has been in the catering business for several years. It was her fear of being on stage, in front of others, that kept her from realizing her dream of performing in musical theatre. This experience has been a huge challenge for her.

Richard Poetker is a software sales executive from Riverdale. He has had little or no experience in theatre, having been an athlete in high school. He was looking forward to getting that same adrenaline rush from being onstage, and drew inspiration and encouragement from his three young children.

Way Off Broadway’s production of The Wizard of Oz has that feel-good experience that comes from seeing ordinary people rise to new heights in front of an audience full of friends, family, and theatre fans.

The first episode aired March 2, and others follow weekly. Check your local television listings for times, or visit

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