Holder and Older Cousin (and Olive the Family Dog)
|Sierra Holder the dancer in orange|
YOUNG CARIBBEAN CANADIAN ACTRESS SIERRA HOLDER IS OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD STARTING TONIGHT
By Stephen Weir
When the curtain rises tonight at the Elgin Theatre for the official opening of the Pantomime Wizard of Oz, two cousins, and their dog will be performing together for the very first time. Sierra Holder, an Ottawa actress with strong Caribbean ties (her mother is from St Lucia and her father from the Bahamas), is making her debut on the big stage – the first role since finishing Sheridan’s Musical Theatre Performance programme just a few months ago.
Sierra Holder plays multiple supporting roles in the Pantomime and is the understudy for Dorothy – which means she has to be ready to fill in for the star, Camille Eanga-Selenge, if she can’t perform. It is a sure bet that Sierra isn’t hoping that Camille literally breaks a leg out on stage.
“ She is my cousin! I just so excited to be out there with her, ” explains the Ottawa actress. “She is six year older than me and was the first in our family that has made it in the Arts. She is a tremendous inspiration for us all. It is just too cool to be on stage with her (and her dog Olive as Toto)!”
Cousin Camille is also a Sheridan Theatre Studies alumnus. For the past few six year she has been on the road starring in both Australia and Broadway's 'The Book of Mormon'. She will be moving on to act in Stratford’s 2019 season after this production closes.
“ I was still in school at Sheridan when I landed Wizard of Oz,” said Holder. “I had done a number of theatre productions while in Toronto (and I had few movie and TV parts as well), but I wasn’t expecting the call that I got from my agent telling me I got a part in this big show. It happened all so quickly! I screamed an awful lot – I just feel so very lucky”.
Holder had just come off stage when she talked to the Caribbean Camera. “We are still doing previews, the grand-opening is Thursday (tonight). We had a lot of children in the seats today. They loved it. Did they get the jokes? Absolutely, children are way smarter then I think we adults realize.”
Toronto actor Ross Petty produces the annual Christmas pantomime. This is his 23rd year for staging family-friendly comedic musicals. It is playing daily at the Yonge St. Elgin Theatre and runs until January 5th.
Based on the Wizard of Oz story, Petty jokes that he turned the classic story into a “Toto-ly Twistered Family musical”. This version of Oz has dog-walker Dorothy (from Toronto) landing in Oz and quickly becoming the enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West.
This pantomime encourages loud cheering and equally noisy boos. The dancing, pop songs and jokes on stage guarantee every generation will laugh from start till curtain fall.
When the play’s run ends Holder is going to start prepping for her next major role. She is in Freaky Friday, a comedy being staged by Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton in April.
“ After that I am going to be working in a restaurant!” said Sierra Holder. “I have to make some money. I support the charity Diva Day and plan to travel with them to Kenya next year.” (The Charity provides menstrual cups to young African women to make sure they never miss school because of their periods).