- The Wizard of Oz. Footlight Theatre Company presents a musical adaptation of the 1939 classic at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby Nov. 4-19. For tickets visit www.ticketstonight.ca or call 604-684-2787.
THE classic American comedian W.C. Fields once famously remarked: "Never work with children or animals."
W. C. Fields never got to meet Michelle Creber.
At 12 years of age, Creber has a resume in film, television, voice-over, dance, singing and theatre that someone would be proud of at twice, three times her age.
She's worked in scores of films, TV shows, animated features and stage productions.
That's why Footlight Theatre didn't hesitate in casting the Horseshoe Bay resident as Dorothy in its upcoming presentation of The Wizard of Oz.
"Not just because they cast me," says Creber, "but I think in general Dorothy should be played by a girl about eight to 12. The whole storyline makes so much more sense. That's what the original book was based on."
Footlight's production is very deliberately based on the classic 1939 Judy Garland film version, and Creber has studied it extensively.
"I've seen it maybe seven to 10 times. I love the movie," she says. "The show is very iconic and people expect it to be like the movie. So we're trying to get good chunks of the movie while trying to get deeper into the characters. People don't really think about the characters. So it's a dream, but what does it mean? We've been doing character studies, tons of stuff like that."
Theatre-goers can expect "a heck of lot of fun." she says. "Every year Footlight's production gets bigger and bigger and this is our biggest show yet. Ticket sales and production values are great. Our sets are fantastic, our cast and crew are amazing. I think it's going to be amazing. People who might have seen Footlight a few years ago might not know how much we've improved."
Creber, who was a singer at two and an actor at four, and has also played in classics like Annie and The Sound of Music, said headlining a show is a pleasure not a pressure.
"I don't get nervous any more. I've been doing this my whole life. I'm really sure this is going to be a great show. I don't get worried or show sick beforehand. This is what I love to do. This is my passion. It's like walking up and down stairs. It's that easy."
Creber's mother Monique says director Albania Lindbergh Streak had worked with Michelle before and it wasn't a huge leap of faith to put her in the lead.
"She wanted someone younger but was prepared to go a little bit older because of the acting requirements. They saw her production so it wasn't a huge risk to for them to feel confidence in what she can do."
Being an entertainer isn't almost the most conventional of childhoods, the Crebers say.
"We never really had a normal family life," says Monique. "It's good, but most people wouldn't call it very conventional. We are performers as well and we don't keep normal hours and we are willing to change things up for her. Things like letting her withdraw from normal school, that was a tough decision but we realized afterwards it was for the best. When she's not working she can focus and do a ton of work. When she's on set she has a tutor. We have a big thing about staying grounded too."
The Wizard of Ox starts tonight at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby. Visit www.ticketstonight.ca for tickets.