Oz in the News 1.17.18

Why Did The Good Place Hide So Many Wizard of Oz References in Last Week’s Episode? A decade ago, Lost fans went a little batty with Oz-related theorizing, guessing that the show would end with a twist ripped straight from L. Frank Baum and the Yellow Brick Road. Very few of those bets paid off. Still, because Schur is a Lost fan himself, and because The Good Place has made a habit of springing its own “everything you know is wrong” surprises, it wouldn’t be completely out of line to think that the Wizard of Oz parallels in “Best Self” are some kind of larger clue to where the show might be headed. Like: Will Eleanor Shellstrop wake up in the series finale and find herself back in Arizona, living around people who look like Janet, Chidi, Jason, Michael, and Tahani? While we break out the scratch paper to get busy postulating, here’s a handy reminder of just how Wizard of Oz–like “Best Self” actually is. Some of these references are overt, some more subtle, and some, to be honest, probably unintentional. They’re all collected from the vaguest Oz nod to the strongest.

UMS Adds Free Performance And Livestream To U.S. Premiere Of FK Alexander’s OVER THE RAINBOW The University Musical Society (UMS) of the University of Michigan will add a free performance of Glasgow-based performance artist FK Alexander’s (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7 pm. This special performance, which will last about an hour, will be streamed at ums.org/live and via Facebook Live at facebook.com/UMSNews. Tickets for the free, in-person experience will be distributed via lottery at ums.org/rainbow. UMS will also host a livestream viewing party at Light Box Performance Space in Detroit (8641 Linwood Street). Admission to the viewing party is free and open to the public. FK Alexander’s sonically immersive production of (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow will run from Friday, January 26 through Saturday, February 3 in the Stamps Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor (201 S. Division Street). The production receives its U.S. premiere with these performances and is not currently scheduled to be seen anywhere else in the country this year.

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Oz in the News 1.5.18

Celebrities walk the yellow brick road It was the first red carpet event of the year, only it wasn’t red. Appropriately for the opening night of The Wizard Of Oz, producers organised a one-off yellow brick road carpet at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. Stars of film, television and the stage flocked to the theatre to be among the first in town to see the musical production that is based on the 1939 movie classic with five new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber. “It is colourful, it is loud, it is brash, it is wonderful, warm and funny,” producer John Frost said of the show. “It has got all of those things and I think it is an appropriate time for it to return to Sydney.” The production, which was first staged at the London Palladium in 2011, sees an all-star musical cast in lead roles. Samantha Dodemaide is Dorothy, while Lucy Durack plays Glinda the Good Witch and Jemma Rix is The Wicked Witch of the West.

Oz in the News 1.3.18

Sneak Peek of “The Wiz” Decadent Costumes and Interview with Designer Mathew LeFebvre Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre are teaming up to bring The Wiz to the stage in all its spectacular decadence beginning January 23, 2018. The production, set in New York City, features original costume designs by Mathew LeFebvre that will be worn by our all-star cast. Read the interview below and take a look at these costume sketches to give you a glimpse of what awaits in January!  “Much of my visual research was from New York City and Harlem and we incorporated some ubiquitous elements into some of the designs. For example, the Lion wears Timberland inspired boots and a puffy vest, and the Scarecrow wears an old Adidas track suit. The Citizens of Oz are all based on residents of Harlem, but they will all be dressed in green.” Excited to see these designs come to life? Get your tickets to The Wiz today, running January 23 through March 18, 2018!

Oz in the News 12.30.17

Final surviving ‘Oz’ Munchkin celebrates 98th birthday in January Early in his career, Jerry said it wasn’t uncommon for him to play a New Year’s Eve baby or any number of other assorted roles requiring a small actor. After meeting Jerry, Elizabeth also began working in the movie and TV field, including appearances on “The Gong Show,” (along with hubby Jerry) as well as featured in McDonald’s commercials, appearing as some of the costumed characters. For years, it was Jerry who played the role of the masked Hamburglar — and sometimes Mayor McCheese — in McDonald’s TV commercials. While in later years, his Munchkin contemporaries didn’t mind wearing solider costumes, flowerpots on their heads and other assorted odd ensembles in the guise of their original “Oz” film wardrobe for paid personal appearances, Jerry found it silly. Even when I flew to Los Angeles to join Jerry and the Munchkins in November 2007 for the Munchkins to be honored with a star unveiled on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Maren insisted on wearing his own clothes rather than a costume recreation.

Oz in the News 12.28.17

Matilda Joslyn Gage opera to premiere next month in Syracuse The world premiere of the opera, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage,” is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Carrier Theater, Civic Center, Syracuse. Witness the story of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the lesser known third member of the “triumvirate” of early women’s suffragists — the other two being Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The opera tells how they came together in the early 1850s then had their great split in 1890, resulting in Matilda being “pushed aside,” and right out of the history books. Along the way, we also discover how Matilda fought for others who had been pushed aside, including African-Americans and Native Americans, and how she came to believe that all freedom struggles are equal and interconnected. This opera tells the story of a woman of courage and integrity publicly defying 19th century laws that forced complicity with slavery and denied women their autonomy and liberty and the right to vote. This story shines a light on a remarkable corner of the world known as Central New York that became a hub of free thought and radical activism for ending slavery and promoting Native American rights as well as social justice. Several in the cast are CNY natives who have performed nationally and internationally. Buffalo native Steven Stull plays Maud Gage Baum and L. Frank Baum, respectively, in scenes that open and close the opera, scenes that frame the action. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors and are available via paypal at societyfornewmusic.org/concerts.cfm, or call the Society at 315-251-1151.

Oz in the News 12.24.17

There’s no place like … the Butler Building Who wouldn’t want their name on a brick for a yellow brick road that will be created next to the Butler Building, home of the Aitkin Opera House, where Judy Garland performed as a youngster? Just launched this month is the Yellow Brick Road Campaign, giving fans of Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz and members of the community, the chance to help build their very own yellow brick road while preserving a place in American history. In tribute to the history of the building’s turn-of-the-century opera house, notably the first venue where a young Garland, known then as Baby Gumm, got her start on stage in 1925, owners of the building are creating an opportunity for those to help protect the legacy of this important part of entertainment history by helping to build a yellow brick road around this 1903 building. Funds raised through the purchase of each golden brick will go to help bring the opera house back to its original grandeur, allowing the building to be inducted into the National Historic Registry, officially claiming its place in history.

Oz in the News 12.18.17

A drugmaker used “The Wizard of Oz” to sell OxyContin After Purdue Pharma brought its blockbuster painkiller OxyContin to market in 1996, the company began an aggressive marketing push to convince doctors to start prescribing the drug for moderate pain, like arthritis.  Purdue’s marketing efforts worked: Within five years, OxyContin became the most frequently prescribed brand name narcotic to treat moderate to severe pain in the country.  By 2004, OxyContin also quickly became one of the most abused pharmaceutical drugs in U.S. history, playing a major role in America’s opioid epidemic, which has impacted millions and kills more than 90 people each day. At the heart of Purdue’s sales tactics was an unusual marketing guide, based on the children’s classic “The Wizard of Oz.”  Marketplace obtained a copy of a Purdue Pharma sales document, called “IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN…”  It was stamped “Training & Development,” and sent out to the “Entire Field Force” from the sales department on November 4, 1996.  In the document, Purdue offers its sales reps a step-by-step guide to convincing doctors to prescribe OxyContin. That step-by-step guide was built on “The Wizard of Oz,” complete with munchkins, Auntie Em, Dorothy, and the Yellow Brick Road.