Oz in the News 8.20.19

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ ON THE LEGACY OF WICKED AND FOSTERING NEW TALENT In this podcast, we’re speaking with Stephen Schwartz on the lasting legacy of Wicked and his role in fostering new talent for the theatre in Wicked’s new project with ASCAP, “Flying Free.” Tune in to this podcast to hear about the development of Elphaba and G(a)linda, and his experiences with the effect that this musical has had on the world.

Collecting in the Land of Oz Many young people read the first story, and the thirteen sequels that followed, and became lost in the Land of Oz.  For most, the stories faded from memory as childhood was left behind. For some, including Barb Kennerson of Honeoye, NY, the mythical and marvelous stories and characters cast a lasting lifelong spell.  I did not know how deep of a spell that might be until I visited Kennerson at her home. I knew I had landed in the right place when I glimpsed a Dorothy figurine through the picture window.  Stepping inside, I was blown away by the eclectic and wonderful collection of Oz-related memorabilia that Kennerson has accumulated over the years.  A collection that includes the books she read as a child and many other books by Baum (including a collection of books written under his various pen names).  She has a collection of translated versions and a lovely pop-up picture book she uses for presentations, as well as many related fiction and non-fiction

Oz in the News 8.19.19

Syracuse observes The Wizard of Oz 80th Anniversary  August 25, 1939 was when the movie was released nation wide. To mark the anniversary in Syracuse, the Landmark Theatre has a special showing , next Sunday (August 25th) at 2pm. In addition to the movie, there will be a costume contest.  Basic tickets are $10. For more info go to LandmarkTheatre.org The Lyman Frank Baum Foundation is also planning a ‘Magic of Oz’ weekend, with a bus tour of ‘Oz sites’ on Saturday, October 5th ($15), and a Character Breakfast on Sunday, October 6th at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, which also has a permanent, but changing display of Oz trivia to highlight author L Frank Baum’s Central NY connections.

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 3: The International Wizard of Oz Club When I casually mention The International Wizard of Oz Club (IWOC) to the average person, I get a range of responses, but most fall into these two categories: giggles and astonishment. Most folks don’t know about all the dedicated Oz fans out there. Most folks never heard of the scholarly Baum Bugle, the annual Ozmapolitan conventions, or Oz festivals. Even those who grew up watching MGM’s The Wizard of Oz on TV through the 1960s—and fell in love with Judy Garland or the Scarecrow—have no idea about the cultish following that is alive and well today. Last time, Jane Albright shared how her initial interest in Oz decades ago spiraled into her current role as the IWOC president—with the force of a Kansas twister.

Oz in the News 8.16.19

Charles Santore, Philly illustrator of classic children’s books, dies at 84 Santore spent the better part of his professional life in a large studio above a pizza shop in Rittenhouse Square. That’s where he painted pictures for reissues of classic books like the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit, Snow White, and many, many others. Santore could spend years on a single book, constantly revising the illustrations until they were just right. “If you’re in for a penny you’re in for a pound,” he said in a 2015 interview. “If I’m going to spend two or three years on a project, I want it to be the way it should be so I have no apologies. A book is around for along time. The worst feeling in the world is to look at a book and say, ‘If only I had more time I could have done this better.”

Oconomowoc unveils ‘The Wizard of Oz’ statues (Video)

Oz in the News 8.15.19

Eighty years of The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz literally resonated around the world.  Australians refer to themselves as “Ozzies” (a phonetic spelling of “Aussies”).  When World War II broke out, the march-like number “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” sung in the film by Dorothy and her companions as they set out on the yellow brick road, became a rallying song for troops from Down Under.  No less an authority than Winston Churchill related in his history of the war that Australian soldiers sang it during an important (and victorious) battle with Italian forces in North Africa in January 1941. “This tune always reminds me of those buoyant days,” Churchill wrote. (via OUPblog)

‘The Wizard of Oz’ Anniversary Film contributor Ryan Jay joins us to talk about The Wizard of Oz as the film celebrates its 80th anniversary. (Interview begins at 15:00)

Oz in the News 8.13.19

Dive into Sea Sirens, a graphic novel surfing adventure that will delight readers of all ages Janet Lee, a book buyer in years past who has formal training in creative writing, had always tinkered with the idea of adapting Sea Fairies. Although she loved its visual elements, she knew the story, setting and some of its characters would not appeal to a modern audience. The two main characters, for instance, is an ex-sailing captain with a peg leg named Cap’n Bill and a 12-year-old girl named Trot, both of whom were not related to each other. Lee had started drawing mermaid portraits in 2016 and showed them to Chu. The discussions that followed gave Chu ideas that breathed new life into the story. Chu suggested the story take place in Southern California and to have it revolve around an Asian American family. Trot was changed to a teenage Vietnamese surfer girl and Cap’n Bill became an adopted stray cat with one blind eye. They decided to keep the characters’ names and the essence of the battle scenes, but they completely changed the storyline. The intergenerational friendship in Sea Fairies is retained by adding a grandfather that lived with Trot and her mother. This addition seemed more natural and fitting since it is more common to see grandparents living in Asian American households. In Baum’s book, Trot is saddened by her father’s absence, but in the modern makeover, Trot’s mother is a single mom, and the father is never mentioned. The grandfather’s dementia is what pushes the story forward.

My Journey to Oz & Kansas—Part 2: Meet Jane  Today—August 12—is the 80th anniversary of MGM’s 1939 The Wizard of Oz premiere. A big day in the world of Oz fans. Including Jane Albright, president of the International Wizard of Oz Club. After Jane read my blog posts about L. Frank Baum and my visit to the All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango, NY, she contacted me. We emailed back and forth for months. She invited me to see her own Oz collection. So meeting Jane was on the itinerary of my Journey to Kansas and Oz. Jane has been collecting Oz memorabilia since age thirteen. She fell in love with Oz when a teacher read The Marvelous Land of Oz to her class, reminding her of the Oz books her mother had read to her as a pre-schooler. She found the family Oz books and began re-reading them herself.

Oz in the News 8.12.19

Oconomowoc ups its ‘Wizard of Oz’ hype The $28,000 worth of colorful fiberglass Oz statues were paid for through fundraisers and are set to be installed in a public plaza this week next to City Hall. They portray Dorothy and Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. A yellow brick road has been painted on the patio bricks, while the Wicked Witch of the West will loom in the background. The Wizard of Oz will take up residence on the sidewalk next to a 3-foot-tall granite monument that tells the story of the movie playing here 80 years ago. The idea for the Oz statues came from Duffy, who got a close-up view of some of the Bucky on Parade statues in 2018 that graced Madison and were manufactured at F.A.S.T. Corp. in Sparta. Duffy began talking to the owners of F.A.S.T. — which stands for Fiberglass, Animals, Shapes & Trademarks — and learned that in the vast outdoor archives of the company, amid the molds of giant ice cream cones, fish and elephants, were molds used more than 20 years ago to make “Wizard of Oz” characters for an amusement park in Kentucky. That led to Duffy speaking with tourism and other officials in his city, who suggested reaching out to the community to fund the project both in cash and through in-kind donations for work on the plaza.

Video: Oconomowoc prepares for 80th anniversary celebration of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

The subversive messages hidden in The Wizard of Oz In the sepia opening scenes, we are warned that the magic we’re about to see might not be wholly magical. Having run away from her home in Kansas to stop her pet dog Toto being put down, Dorothy meets a travelling clairvoyant named Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan) – a character who isn’t in L Frank Baum’s source novel, but was created by screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. As kindly as he is, the professor is a con artist who pretends to be psychic by peeking at a photo Dorothy is carrying. Another film might have contrasted this earthbound huckster with the genuine marvels performed by the wonderful Wizard of Oz, but in this one the wizard is played by the same actor as Professor Marvel, and he turns out to be much the same character: a fast-talking fairground showman who hides behind a curtain, waggling levers, and using mechanical trickery to keep his subjects loyal and afraid. He admits that he ended up in the land of Oz when his hot air balloon was blown there – and even that balloon is beyond his control. In a gloriously gonzo final flourish, he floats off into the sky with a cheerful cry of: “I can’t come back. I don’t know how it works!” There aren’t many films that show politicians being quite as brazenly incompetent as that.


Oz in the News 8.11.19

Stolen Ruby Slippers Inspire Fictional Reading On Friday, Sod House Theater (SHT), based in Minneapolis, Minn., will present a staged reading of a fictional account of the disappearance of the slippers led by Joy Dolo and Luverne Seifert, with musical composition by Ashley Hanson and Brian Laidlaw. The presentation, “Ruby Slippers,” will be performed with live music at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16.  The production, explained Seifert, is part mystery, part travelogue and part Coen Brothers storytelling and will examine how a community wrestles with the devastation of the possibility that someone from their own community could be capable of an egregious crime against their hometown. “I’m a teacher at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance, and I proposed the project to our department. So last fall I devised a play based on the theft with a group of university students,” Seifert continued. “We had a great time developing it, using the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ news clips, and documentaries, ultimately creating a Fargo-esque play that we performed at the university.” The performance was well-received, he said, and so he sought to continue the work, receiving a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant to continue phase two of the project. The second phase is what will bring the group to Grand Rapids to host a staged reading of the show in the town in which the mystery began.

Hollywood Flashback: Judy Davis Won an Emmy Playing Judy Garland In 2001, the four-hour ABC miniseries Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows cleaned up at the Emmys, where it won five awards: lead actress, supporting actress, costumes, hair styling and makeup. And it had been just those elements, especially star Judy Davis (“A tour de force performance”), that The Hollywood Reporter loved. (The Hollywood Reporter was less thrilled about the “plodding, unfocused script.”) Exec producer Neil Meron says an unusual amount of effort went into hair and makeup. “It’s a period piece and you’re dealing with one of the most iconic performers ever,” says Meron. “So many eyeballs were going to be watching and ready to take out their scalpels that you’d better be right on about the details. It was the eyebrows; the prosthetics for when she gained weight; it even extended to wearing contact lenses and Judy being uncomfortable but knowing she had to get the eyes right.”