BRIAN Laul has made a life out of the magical story of the Wizard Of Oz and in the process he himself has become a virtual wizard of Oz in the Macarthur region.
As if by magic, the Woodbine resident has created a business from his love of the classic story of Dorothy and her adventure on the yellow brick road.
Mr Laul, 56, has not only created The Wizard Of Oz Funland kids play centre at Leumeah but written and starred in a Wizard of Oz stage production which he has performed 4500 times around the world.
He is the archetypal immigrant success story, moving from his native India to Australia, becoming an Australian citizen and enriching his new community along the way.
He came to Sydney from Chennai in 1998 with his wife Christerine for a look and now finds himself entrenched in the Campbelltown area, conducting sound and light shows and drama workshops for local schools.
He has spent the past two years working on a template to franchise his Wizard Of Oz Funland throughout Australia and Asia, building on the groundwork laid by his family team of himself, his wife and their 23-year-old son Christopher.
“I believe conventional play has gone out the window. What we need to do is spark a child’s imagination,” he said.
Mr Laul said the Wizard of Oz Funland will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year and he had big plans to mark the occasion and to thank the Macarthur area community for their support.
The funland also hosts the annual Macarthur Has Talent competition, now in its ninth year, to give young performers in the region a chance to showcase their talents on a stage. Mr Laul has also started up Good Morning Macarthur Facebook site and said he was inspired by the Robin Williams movie Good Morning Vietnam.
“We film people telling stories that make them proud of Campbelltown,’’ he said. “It’s all about providing opportunity to your community. It’s a two-way street.’’
The former journalist has firm ideas about what is needed for the rich multicultural “tapestry” of the Macarthur region.
They include bringing a festival to the area based on the “play together, stay together” theme.
“It’s all about understanding each other. Which child cares about where their playmates came from?’’ he said.
“You don’t lose your cultural roots but you use them to contribute to a growing community.’’ He believes the Wizard Of Oz works for all ages because it is a multi-layered story and not just a fairytale, and has adopted its lessons in his own life.
“It’s about a journey of self-empowerment. “You can accomplish anything if you dare to believe in yourself,” he said. “That’s the mantra I have gone through life with. “Be yourself and do your thing. “I have been very lucky.”