At only 19 years of age, Carly Bettinson has clicked her heels together and landed the role of a lifetime. Currently starring in Harvest Rain’s production, ‘The Wizard of Oz: Arena Spectacular’, the local Brisbane performer is riding a rainbow of happiness as she prepares to tour Australia in bright ruby slippers as Dorothy.
Having studied at the Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre, Carly hadn’t always had a clear idea of what coloured brick road she wanted to travel down but knew she had a drive for something creative and challenging. Spending all her free time learning everything from singing to the piano, to painting and rollerblading, the philomath loved performing but didn’t believe it would turn into a fulltime career.
“For 2-years I studied, deferred, worked full time in a bridal dress store and went back to studying again. As much as I tried to convince myself that I was fine, I honestly felt so alone, lost and unhappy with what I was doing. I hadn’t found my ‘thing’ yet,” Bettinson said.
“I saw my friends continuing their studies in engineering, business and law and I felt embarrassed that I wasn’t moving forward in my studies like them.”
Working part-time as an Usher at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre while managing her studies, it was here the aspiring actress became obsessed with her love of musical theatre. Spending time in a theatre, seeing shows and watching audiences reactions, Bettinson felt honoured to be part of the theatrical journey. Referring to her work as a taste-tester of chocolate bars, it was the likes of ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Beautiful: The Carol King Musical’ that inspired her to take the next step in her career.
“I plucked up the courage to audition for the Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre. I arrived late with my sheet music printed on pink paper. I didn’t know how to dance or behave and had never really met other people who loved musical theatre like me. I was very overwhelmed. [But] I somehow got accepted into the Certificate IV course and I didn’t look back,” she said.
“I left uni and dedicated all my energy into learning as much as I could from my trainers and peers. It felt like I had found home – I was so relieved and thankful to finally enjoy what I was doing!”
Now calling the stage her home, Bettinson is set to embark on a stadium-sized tour of the beloved classic, in a role made famous by Judy Garland. The all-new arena production features a stunning display of LED screens, with wall-to-wall animations and a cast of over 900 singers, dancers and actors. For Bettinson, it has been a dream come true working with a talented creative team who’ve helped her embody the iconic character, despite their already established dog-loving and quick to speak similarities.
“I just want my performance to honour the people I work with and their vision, and of course be meaningful and genuine to our audience, but I think that kind of expectation is helpful and challenging in a good way,” Bettinson said.
“We have an exceptional creative team and cast who are a joy to work with and I couldn’t feel more proud to be working with a company that is so influential in thousands of young creatives lives all over Australia. Let’s just say I wouldn’t call it work.”
‘The Wizard of Oz – Arena Spectacular’ will venture to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in July, skip to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in October and then jump to the Sydney Qudos Bank Arena, January 2020. While Canberra, Melbourne and Perth tour dates are yet to be announced, Bettinson is excited to escape to Oz, but also looks forward to coming home at the end of the day.
“Home is where I can make a mess and rest and feel comfortable just being. I feel most at home in my colourful bedroom filled with plants, warm light and craft supplies,” Bettinson said.
For Bettinson, the dream of performing has changed her life. Having worked in a bridal store two-years ago, where she used to sing the entire score of ‘Wicked’ while steaming gowns, the young creative is thrilled and completely thankful to begin her journey towards a dream career. In a typical underdog story, Bettinson is set to continue her pursuits in singing and creating things.
“This profession is so challenging in every way, it feels like I learn a big lesson every day. Often as a slightly ‘detached from reality’ dreamer I am constantly learning to be disciplined, especially in areas of my craft that are less glamorous,” she said.
“Attitude is key – kindness, hard work, commitment and respect are just as important as having talent.”
‘The Wizard of Oz – Arena Spectacular’ heads to Brisbane Entertainment Centre this weekend, for three performances only. For ticketing and show information, visit https://www.wizardofozarena.com/.