Alana Hibbert plays two major roles in Young Peoples’ Theatre production
Alana Hibbert is looking to bring the house down as she portrays both Auntie Em and the Wizard in the Young People’s Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
The 36-year-old actress has lived in North Toronto for six years and made her way to the city’s acting scene via Delta, B.C.
She may be looking for a new home as developers in midtown are set to demolish her current residence in favour of a bigger condo.
But the show, as many in the theatre industry say, must go on.
And Hibbert is excited to work alongside director Joey Tremblay, especially after he suggested she read for Em when she initially auditioned for the role of Glinda.
“I was really was hoping I’d get to work with him because he had a really good vibe in the room.”
Hibbert first caught the acting bug when she attended a performance of Oliver! by the company Theatre Under the Stars in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
“I was really excited, and extraordinarily jealous of all the kids that were in the production, just because I thought it looked like so much fun,” she recalls. “I thought, this looks like a lot of fun, I wish I could do that.”
Since then she’s compiled an impressive resume, including her “bucket list” role of Sarah in Ragtimeat the Shaw Festival. It’s a role made famous by Hibbert’s idol, actress Audra MacDonald.
“Her voice was unique. I was obsessed about everything that she did,” Hibbert said. “She was also one of these actresses, as a black actress, who was conquering musical theatre.
“The chance to take on that role, in that particular production, was a phenomenal experience.”
Even though Hibbert’s home is at risk of being carried away by the development tornado, she’s right at home with her roles of Auntie Em and the Wizard. Both of them were inspired from the film The Wiz featuring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
She’s taking a more youthful, vibrant approach, naturally, with Dorothy maternal figure.
“That’s part of the discovery of who Auntie Em is,” Hibbert admits. “I don’t think Auntie Em should be an older, stick in the mud. I think that she has an earthiness and a motherliness to Dorothy.”
The Wizard of Oz is at the Young People’s Theatre to May 15.