Monthly Archives: February 2011

Oz in the News 2.28.11

Toto recall: the Wizard of Oz hits the West End I spend an afternoon watching rehearsals, and progress is agonisingly slow. I start watching at 2pm, as the projections team screen a just-finished animation of the haunted forest. There is a long lull, then the Wicked Witch’s wrought-iron castle revolves into position, presided over by Hannah Waddingham’s imperious witch and two terrifying monkeys. It looks glorious – but it has taken an hour and 20 minutes to run through barely two minutes of show.  The danger, Sams recognises, is that this intense focus on getting the technology working, testing lighting and sound effects, tailoring the choreography to the stage, might swamp the story at the heart of the show. “The trick,” he says, “is to take what we had in the rehearsal room, which is a heartfelt, touching, small thing, and make it small but big.”

PS22 Chorus from Staten Island closes the Oscars: ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ The kids who performed at the Oscars finale tonight at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, California definitely stole the show. Known as the PS22 Chorus, the Staten island school kids came to Los Angeles and performed the song, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ from the Wizard of Oz movie at the end of the show.


Oz in the News 2.26.11

James Franco Closing Disney Deal For ‘Oz: The Great And Powerful’ While James Franco and Anne Hathaway have been busy pulling it together to host Sunday’s Oscarcast, Franco’s CAA reps and Disney have closed his deal to play the title role in Oz: The Great and Powerful. That puts the film on track to begin production in July, with Franco reuniting with his Spider-Man director Sam Raimi in the prequel to the L. Frank Baum novel that was scripted by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Joe Roth is producing.

Photo Flash: First Look at THE WIZARD OF OZ in London! Audiences are following the yellow brick road over the rainbow to see Danielle Hope, winner of BBC TV’s Over the Rainbow, play Dorothy at The London Palladium, the capital’s home of the family musical. Here is a first look at the production which began previews on February 7th and which opens next week in London!

Lorna Luft Joins All-Star Lineup for NY Pops Celebration of Judy Garland, 3/11 Fifty years after her legendary Carnegie Hall debut, The New York Pops and Music Director Steven Reineke  pay tribute to Hollywood icon Judy Garland on Friday, March 11 at 8:00 PM, with a song-for-song re-creation of the 1961 performance referred to by so many as “the greatest night in show business history”. Reineke has announced the newest addition to the concert’s lineup of stunning artists, acclaimed entertainer – and daughter of Judy Garland – Lorna Luft. Ms. Luft will take the stage of Carnegie Hall as a Special Guest Star alongside the previously announced trio of Broadway luminaries – Mary Poppins star Ashley Brown, Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley  and West Side Story’s Karen Olivo – in this vibrant revival of the historic concert, which features signature Garland favorites such as “Over the Rainbow”, “The Trolley Song”, “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “The Man That Got Away”.

Hollywood Royalty in Beverly Hills: The Paul Gregory-Janet Gaynor Collection at Heritage Auctions Gregory and Gaynor’s 20-year marriage was a true love affair built upon an enduring friendship. Before Gregory, Gaynor was married to Adrian (1903-1959), one of Hollywood’s most talented costume designers, best remembered for the magical garments he conceived for The Wizard of Oz (1939) – the munchkin clothes, the ruby slippers, and Dorothy’s gingham dress were all his – and for dressing Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford (for whom he created the padded shoulder look). Paul and Adrian had been close friends as well, and Adrian’s premature death from complications stemming from an insect bite at his ranch in Brazil was also a huge blow to Paul.

Off to see the wizard: Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope makes Dorothy debut with Michael Crawford ‘Yes, there is criticism of reality shows that create stars, but in this case it seems acceptable because the part calls for a very young actress who might not have been discovered any other way.  And, yes, Over The Rainbow  –  the TV show that found Danielle  –  was obviously a great plug for The Wizard Of Oz itself. But surely anything that gets audiences into the theatre in this day and age is to be applauded. It’s great that Danielle already has people who watched her journey on that show now rooting for her in The Wizard Of Oz. I hope all of them will come along to see her.’


Oz in the News 2.25.11

L. Frank Baum Tells How To Read the Wizard of Oz “Such a appreciation as yours is my greatest reward in writing stories for children,” he writes. “I want to amuse the little ones and at the same time strengthen their imaginations, as I believe the future development of civilization depends on the imagination of coming generations more than anything else. I also try to insert a covert moral, which the child may not discover but will nevertheless sense, and to keep the little stories as pure and sweet as they are adventurous..  The Oz books need not be read consecutively, but still if you read them in the order in which they were written you will understand the characters better. The Wizard of Oz; The Land of Oz; Ozma of Oz; Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz; The Road to Oz; The Emerald City of Oz; Tik-Tok of Oz; the Scarecrow of Oz. Also I wish you would read The Sea Fairies and Sky Island, which, while not Oz books, are among my best. I also like John Dough and the Cherub, the story of the Gingerbread Man.”

Appeals Court To Determine If Wizard Of Oz Images Can Be Retroactively Plucked Out Of The Public Domain Patently-O has an interesting discussion about an appeal being heard in the 8th Circuit, involving a question of the boundaries of copyright and the public domain in some images from public domain movie posters for The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind and various Tom and Jerry cartoon films. Of course, back when these came out, in and around 1939, you had to specifically register works to have them covered by copyright. Not surprisingly, the works themselves were registered. However, some of the publicity posters that were used to promote them were released prior to the films being copyrighted (and were not copyrighted themselves) and, thus, are considered public domain.

Oz in the News 2.23.11

L. Frank Baum’s unreleased ‘Oz’ material to be completed years later in new book In the mid-1960’s, the International Wizard of Oz Club published a selection of unfinished writing by the creator himself, Mr. L. Frank Baum in the club’s seasonal magazine, The Baum Bugle. Years later, author (and coincedentally associate entertainment editor for the magazine) Angelo Thomas is planning to complete what some say could’ve been Baum’s 15th book in the series if he were to have passed away at perhaps a later date.

Wizard of Oz: Andrew Lloyd Webber interview “As soon as Jeremy Sams – the director – and I started to look at The Wizard of Oz, we could see that theatrically it would need a lot of work to pull it together. I know the show has done respectably on Broadway in the past, but it’s never performed as well as it should – not considering it contains some of the greatest songs of all time.”  First, Lloyd Webber approached the rights-holders and asked if they would let him write some new material.  “I wasn’t that optimistic; it was entirely possible they could have told us to go away. In fact, they were very amenable and gave us the green light to do a sing-through. We incorporated the four new songs I’d written with some dummy lyrics. Luckily, they liked it and gave us the go-ahead,” he says.

Dress up as your favorite ‘Wizard of Oz’ character to benefit Ozanam Inn Tulane University medical students are holding their first annual Race for Oz, a 5K race and relay to benefit the Tulane School of Medicine Ozanam Inn Weekend Clinic.  If you’d like to be part of the fun, get a headstart on Mardi Gras and head for Shelter #12 in your own Oz-inspired costume. Take your family and have a whole cast of Oz characters.

Exhibition shows New Haven history, crocodiles Among the items on display at the gallery is a Bradley Smith hard candy tin, one of particular interest and motivation to Greenberg. Smith, a New Haven-based candy company, patented the word “lollipop,” which originally belonged to a popular race horse, Greenberg explained. When the company went bankrupt and lost its patent in the late 1930s, he said, and the word was soon used in the “Wizard of Oz” film franchise’s Lollipop Guild.  The moment when the guild hands Dorothy a lollipop, the film bursts into color. Greenberg said that New Haven was instrumental in putting the world in technicolor, so to go with the tin, he recreated the “Wizard of Oz” scene — with crocodiles.

Debbie Reynolds MGM Collection on the Auction Block Part 1 of this auction will have about 700 costumes and props, including Monroe’s subway dress, which the auction company calls the most famous costume in screen history.  Included are Judy Garland’s “Dorothy” original blue and white gingham test dress with puff-sleeved white blouse from the first two weeks of filming, designed by Adrian, plus the matching fabled ruby slippers in the “Arabian test” pattern.

Oz art draws awes There was no place like Irving Elementary in Indianola on Feb. 14 and 17 when students showcased their artwork during the Wizard of Oz Art Bonanza.  The Yellow Textured Road, created by second- and third-graders, directed visitors through the Irving version of the Land of Oz.  Stops along the road included Munchkin Land, the Forest of Friends, the Field of Poppies, Emerald City and At Home in Kansas.  Munchkin Land featured munchkin collage masks and clay munchkin vessels created by the fifth-graders as well as primary colored bubbles done by kindergarten students.  Artwork by the first-graders was showcased in the Forest of Friends. The students created portraits of the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow as well as primary color tree paintings and linear glue designs.  Second grade and fourth grade students collaborated to make the Field of Poppies area. Fourth-graders created recycled flowers, while second-graders made printmaking poppy flowers.  Third grade students made the Emerald City area sparkle with their renditions of Emerald City castles.  At the end of the textured road, visitors reached the At Home in Kansas area where they viewed a kindergarten collage rainbow and leaf rubbings and paintings done by third-graders.  During their travels through the Land of Oz, live Wizard of Oz characters also greeted visitors.

Oz in the News 2.18.11

Mila Kunis Melts for Role of Wicked Witch of the West in Sam Raimi’s Oz, the Great and Powerful After a recent meeting with Raimi and Wizard James Franco, all agreed that Kunis would be perfect for the part of Theodorah, the younger sister of Evanorah who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West and, of course, to cackle iconic lines like, “I’ll get you, my pretty … and your little dog, too!” With her involvement assured, we’re told that Franco finally agreed to do the picture.

‘Wicked’ star Brummel enjoying turn as Elphaba “I didn’t want my interpretation to be changed by the novel,” she said. “Now that I’ve settled into the role, I’m very eager to read the book, now that I have what I perceive as the character. Now I think I’d be able to read it and enjoy it for the book that it is.”  Her favorite moments in the show are the biggies: “There’s the iconic ‘Defying Gravity’ — you can’t help but feel like a rock star by the end of that. The only thing that’s strange is, you don’t have any room to move around — you’re singing this huge song with very little space to move.”

Theatre students to perform modern ‘The Wizard of Oz’ In the musical, residents of Emerald City sport couture costumes, 21st-century technology is integrated into the plot and the wizard has been transformed into a modernized version of the 1939 original.  Although the feel of the musical incorporates modern themes, Graham Lundeen, a theatre junior who will play the Cowardly Lion, said the audience still will take away the same idea from the production.  “We haven’t changed the journey or the characters or the message,” Lundeen said. “Everything that was already there is still very true to what was in the ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (film).”

DAO Culture Night to present zany ‘Oz’ spoof For this winter’s Asian Culture Night — taking place on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Collis Common Ground — the Dartmouth Asian Organization will present a spoof on “The Wizard of Oz” that explores the effect of Asian stereotypes on Dartmouth students. According to DAO organizers, the play — titled “The Kim of Oz,” in reference to College President Jim Yong Kim — uses light-hearted fun to provide a powerful message about identity.  The play, billed as “an original musical with no original music” by the event organizers, brings the story of “The Wizard of the Oz” to the Dartmouth campus. Borrowing songs and other elements from the musicals “Wicked” and “The Wiz,” the play — written by Culture Night co-chair Danny Freeman ’13 — chronicles the experiences of Dorothy, a high school student from Asia whose dream is to attend Dartmouth.

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is Popping UP in South Africa The popular film channel (available through DSTV), plans to give cinema goers a heart, a brain and some courage as it brings to life all the pivotal movie moments in a tangible, creative and exciting way – by putting the viewer right at the centre of the action.  The Arts on Main in Johannesburg will be taking 150 eager film enthusiasts somewhere over the rainbow to experience the Wizard of Oz-inspired elaborate set designs and interactive actors and fully immerse them into the world of Oz.  “TCM Pop Up Cinema will be like nothing you have experienced before, it will allow each and every person to get involved in the fun,” said Alan Musa, VP and GM, Middle East, Africa and Pan Region for Turner.

‘The Wizard Of Oz’ Lives Again In New CD From Saxophonist Peter MacDonough On MacDonough’s latest album, “The Woo: A Latin Jazz Suite for Soprano Saxophone,” music from the 1939 classic film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” is colorfully reimagined. By adding Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian textures, MacDonough takes songs that while timeless are still products of a distant era and awakens them to the 21st century.  “The Wizard of Oz” isn’t in Kansas anymore. Instead, just as the title of MacDonough’s CD suggests, he is somewhere tropical. “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are (Part II),” for example, is invigorated by jumpy percussion that reflects the spicy, sun-soaked good vibrations of Latin music. “We’re Off to See the Wizard” is injected with an electrifying charge as rambunctious piano and MacDonough’s sassy saxophone lead the march. Through it all MacDonough’s saxophone playing is the thread that ties the tunes together. His sax conveys numerous moods, from the quiet reflection of “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are (Part I)” to the infectious giddiness of “Optimistic Voices.” No moment is wasted, and each track is masterfully crafted.

Can’t Touch This: Toy Fair 2011, Engage!, and Virtual Pocket Money Brand expansion is nothing new; the trick now is how to extend characters and brands interactively. As relatively established as the virtual world concept is, and as much representation as it had at Engage!, the only born-a-book virtual world on display was “Dorothy of Oz,” an interactive virtual world commissioned from Dubit by Summertime Entertainment. Summertime is currently at work on CGI films derived more from the original L. Frank Baum books than from the 1939 film, and the Dubit representative talked enthusiastically about “bringing the classic book forward.”

Superbreak urges agents to sell off Wizard of Oz hype Superbreak is urging travel agents to sell London packages off the back of the media hype surrounding The Wizard of Oz. The operator has reported that agents have already secured more than £250,000 worth of bookings to the musical, which officially opens on 1 March. “This show has been much anticipated since the BBC TV show ‘Over the Rainbow’ saw Danielle Hope win the role of Dorothy back in June last year. The addition on Michael Crawford as the Wizard will I am sure, make this a must see for 2011,” said Graham Balmforth, national sales manager at Superbreak. “Agents have already sold over 1500 customers to the show and I expect the media hype surrounding the opening night to create a real buzz which I urge agents to ride on the back of. This is a show that appeals to all types of customers and we have a range of package options to suit all budgets.”

Oz in the News 2.16.11

The Wizard of Coronado Personally, I don’t need to see where Baum wrote to feel his presence, either in Coronado or Hollywood. Whenever I find myself with my heart light and my imagination in overdrive, I remember the “Oz” books and the unforgettable places they took me as a child. This can happen at home, at school, and yes, even while crossing the bridge from San Diego to Coronado. It’s kind of our own Yellow Brick Road.

Over the rainbow Today is the anniversary of the birth of Harold Arlen. Arlen may be the most underrated and innovative of the composers at the heart of the canon of American popular song. Working with a variety of lyricists, from those in whom he brought out the best, such as Yip Harburg (“Over the Rainbow”) and Ted Koehler (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World On a String,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “When the Sun Comes Out”), to those who regularly scaled the heights, such as Johnny Mercer (“One for My Baby,” “Accentuate the Positive,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “This Time the Dream’s On Me”) and Ira Gershwin (“The Man that Got Away”), Arlen supplied the haunting melodies — bluesy tunes with a jazz feeling and a Jewish heart. He wrote an absurdly large number of great songs.

Flash mob created by some Dauphin County students The Susquehanna Township school district students created a flash mob at Strawberry Square to promote their upcoming musical “The Wizard of Oz”. The students appeared from different areas of Strawberry Square and came together in the center to dance and sing songs from the show for patrons.

St. John’s biggest fundraiser underway Relax the day away in the merry old land of Oz.  St. John the Baptist Catholic School is holding its 12th annual Benefit Gala Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Von Braun Center in the North Hall.  This year’s theme is An Evening in Oz, a setting inspired by the popular book and movie The Wizard of Oz.  The benefit gala is St. John’s largest event, with an average of 600 people attending and around $50,000 being raised every year.

Oz in the News 2.13.11

Electrifying: Frankenstein revisited The Golden Age of horror would have been so different without Kenneth Strickfaden.  It was Strickfaden’s weird electrical devices – machines that sparked and screeched with each pull of the lever, machines that groaned and buzzed as they transformed invisible electricity into crude kinetic sculptures – that brought Frankenstein to life.  “He was brilliant,” said Doug Norwine, a saxophonist who lives in Easley and works as the director of music and entertainment for Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas where he authenticates memorabilia.  Norwine owns the largest collection of Strickfaden memorabilia, including original machinery from the 1931 original “Frankenstein” movie, sketches and prototypes of what the original lab was to look like, what remains of the original Jacob’s Ladder, a Magna Lux used in the Wizard of Oz, and Tesla machines.  Some of the memorabilia is expected to be on display when “Young Frankenstein,” the musical, opens on Tuesday at the Peace Center.

Video Game Quick Hits If you’re a Kinect or MOVE owner you may have heard about Yoostar 2, a movie karaoke game where you replace characters in iconic scenes. Sounds like a great party – if you have no shame. The full movie list has been released but you don’t want to read all 80 of them here so I’ll just highlight a few the BSR! readers will love: 300, Frankenstein, The Godfather, The Hangover, Kick Ass, Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek: TNG (Locutus) and TOS (Tribbles), and Superman Returns. There are also classics like Casablanca and, my favorite, The Wizard of Oz.

Protesting The Wizard Of Oz In Rapid City In an effort to bring attention to L. Frank Baum’s anti-Indian writings, the United Urban Warrior Society says they will conduct a peaceful protest at the Civic Center’s presentation this weekend of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Founder and president James Swan says he would rather that people take it upon themselves to read about the man from New York who made a temporary home in South Dakota.  The protestors will be at both Friday and Saturday performances.

Oz in the News 2.10.11

Treat the kids to an adventure in Oz See Dorothy dance in her ruby slippers with Toto and the Scarecrow perform a memorable soft shoe tap dance Feb. 12 when Repertory Dance Theatre   presents an original production, “Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz.”  The family Valentine’s Day treat at Scottish Rite Cathedral features all the “Wizard of Oz” characters, including the Wicked Witch of the West, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man, along with a troupe of dancing poppies and falling snowflakes.

J&J investors get Oz skit On Wednesday, the 69-year-old, trash-talking, animal-loving CEO opened the annual shareholders’ with a prayer, introduced his daughter, three grandchildren and his beloved “Aunt Betty,” and closed it with an employee’s rousing rendition of “God Bless America.” In between, the patriotic Shreiber took the audience through a 20-minute in-house video along the yellow brick road to see the wizard of Snack City. Shreiber was Dorothy. His trusty German shepherd, Teddy, was a rather large Toto. Other executives played implausible companions he picked up along the way.  Shreiber wanted a different spin on the same rags-to-riches story he loves to tell every year. This time, with “Over the Rainbow” playing softly on the soundtrack, Shreiber recalled his “corporate fairy tale.”  The audience forgot about their stock portfolios for a bit and laughed out loud. They shook their heads in disbelief as Shreiber dropped the f-bomb and other words not found in a family newspaper.

Oz in the News 2.8.11

‘Wicked Shoes’ exhibit taps into interest in all things ‘Wicked’ “So many of the pieces that have come in here have had hearts in them,” said artist Linda Muldoon, who co-owns the gallery. “And the heart and the home are connected. I think what’s remarkable about the entries is not only that they have hearts in them, but that they were made with heart.”  There’s humor and whimsy, too. Appleton artist Tim Brunn submitted a painting of one of Oz’s infamous flying monkeys wearing ruby slippers. And Reedsville artist Pat Filzen’s creation features a fiber-art tornado twisting up out of a black oxford-type shoe.  Filzen took a used shoe that she patterned after Dorothy’s shoes from Kansas, and drove over it with her car to flatten and crunch it.  She threaded her felted fabric cyclone with wire and wrapped it around an old Jello mold that she painted grey. To the cyclone, she attached tiny figurines of recycled or repurposed materials that help tell Dorothy’s story. She cut and tied scraps from an old broom to create Dorothy’s friend, the Scarecrow, for example.

Oz You’re Worth It! The Wizard Of Oz doesn’t officially open until March 1 but The Sun attended a special preview last night.  It was the first time the show has been open to the public – and it was truly spectacular. Witches sparkled and cackled, dropping in from the ceiling and rising from the floor.  The yellow brick road dips and twists like a waltzer, and fire, smoke and steam effects create a dazzling atmosphere on stage.  The majestic choreography is masterminded by former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips.  Kids may find the Wizard – played by West End legend Michael Crawford – a bit scary, but everyone will be terrified by the demonic flying monkeys.  The London Palladium has had a £4million overhaul to make it a suitable home for the high-profile show – and it was money well spent.  The incredible collapse of Dorothy’s home in the tornado is almost cinematic, as computer graphics make the winds whirl as the house spins into space.  And Danielle’s performance is as impressive as the stage show. Her rendition of Over The Rainbow made the spine tingle and earned her rapturous applause from the sell-out crowd.

Michael Crawford: I fought off ME to make Wizard comeback to the West End Lord Lloyd-Webber had tried several times to coax Crawford out of his hiatus, but only succeeded when the role of the Wizard cropped up.  He said: “I had to think for a long time over this offer. In the end I felt it was too good to turn down.  “It’s not a massive role, but I’m quite happy doing this, and I will see how it goes. I really didn’t realise until I got back the work that goes into a performance. You’re like an athlete – if you haven’t been practising things tighten up. I had to do a lot of practice work, but I got through it. Even when I was 21 I would have a 40-minute nap on the day of a show, and I will still do that. But it’s been so far so good.”

END OF THE RAINBOW Nominated for four Olivier Awards; Extends Run Peter Quilter’s End of the Rainbow starring Tracie Bennett  as Judy Garland  today extends its West End run again as Bennett is nominated for the 2011 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress. Peter Quilter also receives a nomination for Best New Play, Hilton McRae for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Gareth Owen for Best Sound Design. Bookings at the Trafalgar Studios are now being taken until 21 May 2011.  Terry Johnson’s production of End of the Rainbow which combines humour and heartbreak to capture both the drama of Garland’s final performances in London and her controversial life off stage, opened in Northampton in February 2010 and transferred to the West End in November where it has received 5 star reviews and standing ovations at every performance since opening night.


Oz in the News 2.5.11

James Franco in Early Talks for ‘Oz’ After Johnny Depp Passes The Oz role has been a hot one since Robert Downey Jr. fell out two and a half weeks ago. Johnny Depp was then in discussions for the role but after several meetings ultimately passed last night.  Franco may be, at first blush, an odd choice to topline the tale of a young illusionist with a grandiose attitude who is forced to flee a traveling circus. His hot air balloon is swept up by a tornado to the land of Oz, which is run by two magical wicked witches.  But from acting pinned to a rock in 127 Hours to a cameo as a drug lord in Green Hornet to his stint on General Hospital, Franco is showing he is not following anyone’s playbook, but his own.

First Look at Danielle Hope in THE WIZARD OF OZ Audiences will soon follow the yellow brick road over the rainbow to see Danielle Hope, winner of BBC TV’s Over the Rainbow, play Dorothy at The London Palladium, the capital’s home of the family musical. Here is a first look at Hope in costume!

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach Wizard of Oz Weekend When we were starting to develop Playland-Not-at-the-Beach ten years ago, we had ideas for many attractions which never came to pass. The most exciting one of these was to be called The Land of Oz where guests would step into the Munchkins’ Village and follow the yellow brick road just as Dorothy had done. Alas, the plan got scuttled in favor of other ideas. But this weekend only we are allowing you to visit a miniature Land of Oz complete in every detail. You will see the Emerald City, and Dorothy’s house with the dead witch’s legs sticking out, the dark castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, plus much more.  There will also be a Wizard of Oz quiz and a Yellow Brick Road Treasure Hunt. Plus anyone who comes in a costume of one of the Wizard of Oz characters immediately wins a free prize at the entrance!