Oz in the News 5.28.16

SCCZEN_250516SPLWizard_ofOz_3_620x310Fate brings Wizard of Oz to NZ  It should have been one of the biggest days of Francesco Ventriglia and Gianluca Falaschi’s respective careers. After a successful dress rehearsal, Ventriglia – a ballet dancer, choreographer and then director of MaggioDanza (Opera Dance Theatre) in Florence – was about to see a childhood dream come true. Designer Falaschi was excited to see audience reaction to the sets and costumes he’d designed for a bold new re-telling of The Wizard of Oz. But, instead of taking their seats at the opening night of the world premiere, the men stood outside the theatre shedding tears of despair rather than joy. A small portion of the ceiling had collapsed, meaning all productions were cancelled for the foreseeable future. Ventriglia’s story leans more toward the darker L. Frank Baum book, rather than the 1939 Hollywood movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy. Taking his lead from this, Falaschi sought to hint at the era the story and film appeared in but to make sets and costumes blending memories and remembrances of fantastical childhood dreams. His world of Oz features bold colours: the Art Deco-style Emerald City is the most verdant green you’ll see on stage, and dancers clad in deep red gowns form a field of gently rippling poppies. It’s all a treat, but the realm of the Princess of Porcelain takes the everyday and makes simple cups and saucers magical and elegant. Dancers in snow-white tutus, edged with the china-blue patterns found on fine porcelain, embody cups and saucers, moving as if they really were being picked up by someone enjoying a high tea. Falaschi says the inspiration came from childhood afternoon teas with his grandmother who also had a canary in a cage. His memory of the little yellow bird in its cage inspired – in a roundabout way – the Wicked Witch of the West’s striking coffin-like cage, from which she breaks free but is always drawn back towards.

Oz in the News 5.23.16

17613bfccace629377ea7150e55c9b09Kickstarter Launches an Amazing Story by one of the creators of “The Wizard of Oz” entitled The Pearl and the Pumpkin  Kickstarter launches an amazing story by the creator of “The Wizards of Oz entitled Pearl and the Pumpkin. The story is based on the 1904 book and subsequent Broadway musical by W.W Denslow and Paul West. It was updated with new comedy and music by Daniel Freedman and produced at The Dramatists Guild in New York City. In addition to this, the show will be performed with wonderful costumes including a very magical 18 musical numbers. The creator of this story is very excited to present this campaign to all people in different parts of the world. Apart from this, they also believe that this will be a very exciting production for the theater venue. It has been their desire to have a huge venue show and they also think it would be wonderful for a video production. They are very hopeful for their stretch goals including $45,000 sets and props as well as DVD manufacture, $40,000 larger orchestra, $35,000 additional music rehearsals and $30,000 additional costumes and lighting. People who will pledge $250 and above will get a Gold Reward that includes signed sheet music book from the show plus two tickets to the show and all Silver rewards.

Oz in the News 5.20.16

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Former Munchkin autographs DVDs while visiting daughter  A former Munchkin stopped by OSF St. Mary Medical Center Thursday. Ardith Todd, 86, was 9 years old when she played a Munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz,” and signed photos of herself from the 1939 film for a steady stream of fans Thursday afternoon in the hospital’s lobby. Todd still lives in California and was visiting her daughter, Deb Jackson, who works at OSF. While most of the Munchkins were dwarfs, Todd was one of a few children MGM selected from a local dance studio. “Whenever they needed kids for different scenes and stuff, (the dance studio owner) would send a group out, and one of them was for ‘The Wizard of Oz,'” Todd said. “From what I can remember, it was a lot of fun, and it was a lot of work. … It took a while for us to learn the steps and the songs. There was a lot of rehearsing, and then the shooting went well.”  “We only worked on our one set, so we had no idea what the story was until we went to the premiere and saw the picture,” Todd said.

Lions, and Tigers, and Puzzles! Oh, My! Zynga Launches Wizard of Oz: Magic Match Worldwide  Zynga, a leading social game developer, today announced the launch of Wizard of Oz: Magic Match, the company’s latest Match-3 offering. Licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the free-to-play game is available today on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, Google Play, Facebook and the Amazon Appstore for Kindle devices. “The Wizard of Oz film has captured the hearts of fans across generations through an endearing story of friends working together to solve an imaginative puzzle,” said Mark Turmell, Senior Creative Director at Zynga. “Wizard of Oz: Magic Match keeps the movie magic alive with exciting Match-3 gameplay and fresh new features. Through Wizard of Oz: Magic Match, we’re excited to give fans a whole new way to interact with one of the most beloved films of all time.” With puzzles inspired by scenes from the original film, players venture along THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD™ with DOROTHY™, the SCARECROW™, the TIN MAN™ and the COWARDLY LION™, swapping, swiping, matching and expanding tiles on their journey. Each winding turn of Wizard of Oz: Magic Match introduces cherished movie characters and iconic imagery, including the chance to spin Glinda’s Magic Wheel for in-game advantages and use Dorothy’s RUBY SLIPPERS™, Munchkin Lollipops and the Tin Man’s Axe to complete puzzles.

Oz in the News 5.19.16

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Wizard of Oz a labour of love  Imagine stitching about 3000 handmade butterflies on to gossamer dresses in just five weeks. That is just one of the painstaking tasks completed to make the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s biggest production for the year, The Wizard of Oz, come to life. Hearing an audience member gasp when the “poppies” came on stage during opening night made all the hours worth it for the costume department. “It was such a fashion moment when they came on. When I heard that, I was like all the hard work was worth it to get that reaction,” costumier James Kelly said. The most labour intensive costume was that of Glinda, the Witch of the North, who was clothed in a wispy design covered in thousands of handmade butterflies. Three costumes were needed for each dancer performing the role so 3000 butterflies needed to be sewn on. Each butterfly was handprinted and had sequins glued on to it before the butterflies were sewn on to the costumes, an effort that made the dresses possible, Kelly said.

Oz in the News 5.17.16

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Wizard of Oz theme park ‘Land of Oz’ to open in North Carolina for four nights only  The historic Land of Oz amusement park, closed for most of the year, will reopen for four days in June with guided tours along the three-quarter mile road, paved with 44,000 yellow bricks.  The site was an amusement park between 1970 and 1980 and is still used for weddings, parties and picnics. The family-owned property is now only available to the public in June and the annual “Autumn at Oz” festival in October for fans of the original book written in 1900 by L Frank Baum. Land of Oz was built on the top of Beech Mountain next to a ski resort in North Carolina by Harry, Grover and Spencer Robbins, who also founded the Tweetsie Railroad in Boone, and was designed by artist Jack Pentes. Visitors will find a five-eighths scale replica of Auntie Em’s house, to escape a tornado, like in the 1939 film. Once outside, they find the house is re-created askew as they have been transported to the magical land of Oz, and the legs of the Wicked Witch of the East are sticking out from under the porch.

Oz in the News 5.16.16

54353191-93f7-4230-94f3-4b2983c74d65_463x34715 Wonderful Things You Might Not Know About L. Frank Baum  In addition to the Oz series, Baum wrote other books for children and teenagers, including romances and science fiction, under an assortment of pen names. Under the name Edith Van Dyne, he wrote a successful series of books called Aunt Jane’s Nieces that were as popular as the Oz books. Other pseudonyms included Laura Bancroft, Floyd Akers, Schuyler Staunton, and Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald.

Emerald City: Wizard of Oz TV Series Ordered by NBC  The Wizard of Oz mythology is getting yet another facelift, and this time it’s for television. NBC has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order for Emerald City, Here’s the official synopsis:

In the blink of a tornado’s eye, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and a K9 police dog are swept into a world far removed from our own — a mystical land of competing realms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. Starring Vincent D’Onofrio (“Daredevil,” “Jurassic World”) as the guileful Wizard and directed by the visionary Tarsem Singh across three European countries, this is Oz completely reimagined — a place where familiar characters show up in fresh, unexpected ways, and where an unsuspecting young woman holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands. As Dorothy navigates this dangerous world and uncovers her true destiny, we’ll see there’s no place like… Oz.

With 14 books in L. Frank Baum’s series about the Land of Oz, there’s certainly plenty of material to work with. Emerald City will arrive sometime midseason, and isn’t on the NBC Fall schedule.

Oz in the News 5.13.16

MTE1ODA0OTcxNjM5NDczNjc3L. Frank Baum: The Wizard Behind the Curtain  If you were to ask any random American about L. Frank Baum, you would most likely be met with a quizzical look. Is that the company that makes clothes for camping? A politician who once ran for Congress? A law firm that advertises on late-night TV? The guy who invented chewing gum? No, none of the above. But simply murmur the names “Dorothy and Toto,” and it would be hard to find one living person who wouldn’t immediately recognize the most famous products of L. Frank Baum’s imagination. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the book that made Baum a household name at the turn of the 20th century, has proven to be as timeless and as culturally influential as any children’s book ever written, even if the name of its author doesn’t inspire the same level of recognition now as it once did.

Dance Review: The Wizard of Oz  Bronte Kelly’s innocent and winning Dorothy progresses through this ever-changing landscape with her trusty companions, the Scarecrow of Loughlan Prior, Massimo Margaria’s Tin Man and Jacob Chown’s timorous Lion.  Their encounter with the Witch of the West, a madly spinning and leaping Mayu Tanigaito, is a highlight of the first act; she is dissolved by Dorothy’s bucket of water all too soon. The second act opens in the Kingdom of Porcelain, ruled over by Laura Jones’s refined and elegant Princess.  While this sequence interrupts the narrative, it offers compensation through its celebration of pure dance.   All too soon Dorothy is back at the Emerald City, but not before the benign witch Glinda, danced by Abigail Boyle, performs a dreamy pas de deux with William Fitzgerald’s unexpectedly youthful Wizard.  Dorothy yearns for home, but the Wizard departs by balloon without her.