Oz in the News 5.6.11

‘Wizard’ of blahs at Puppetworks  Scholars say that the Golden Age of Puppetry — the mirth, the magic, the majesty — was in early 18th-century Vienna, a period when Austro-Hungarian craftsmen, artists, and musicians came together in an epic burst of collaboration and created something great.  It was an era when puppets became legends and puppeteers became gods.  I mention those happy days as a way of introducing this mildly controversial thought: the Golden Age is dead.  The thought first occurred to me midway through the first act of Puppetworks’ disastrous production of “The Wizard of Oz” last week.  Any rendering of L. Frank Baum’s book has one vital set piece, the arrival of the tornado that kicks the plot into motion. It is a moment whose grandeur and spectacle cannot be misplayed, lest disaster strike.

Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Some Ozsome Classic Comics  I recently read Eric Shadower and Skottie Young’s adaptation of Frank L. Baum’s Wonderful World of Oz. My kids are pretty big fans of all things Oz, so it got me thinking about the various incarnations of the Oz story throughout Four Color History. To head off any comments regarding Shanower’s other Oz books and the whole Oz-Wonderland War story, let me state that I’m not covering everything and I’ve picked 1980 as a cut-off point.

Rachel Weisz Joins OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL  The English starlet is in final negotiations to portray the Evil Witch in Disney and Sam Raimi’s prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum classic and Judy Garland film.  With a deal finalized, Weisz would play Evanora, a wicked witch with a thirst for power and conquest. The character is the sister of the more benevolent Theadora (Mila Kunis) of whom the former tries to lure to the power of darker forces.

London’s Wizard of Oz Now On Sale Through January 2012; Cast Album to Be Released May 9   Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new stage production of The Wizard of Oz, based on the story by L. Frank Baum as immortalized in the 1939 film musical featuring music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and EY Harburg and newly augmented by additional songs written by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has put a further 350,000 tickets on sale and is now booking through January 2012.  In addition, the full cast album will be released May 9, through Really Useful Group and Polydor Records. There will also be a small increase in the top ticket price, from the current top price of £62.50 to £65, beginning Sept. 18.

Photos: Evans Wears Ruby Slippers, Oz Extends   Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s production of The Wizard of Oz has extended its book period at the London Palladium and is now selling tickets through to 15 January 2012. This week has also seen Sophie Evans, the Welsh runner-up on Lloyd Webber’s BBC search for Dorothy, filling the iconic ruby slippers while Over the Rainbow winner Danielle Hope is on holiday.  Evans, who typically only performs on Tuesday evenings, started her week-long run as Dorothy on 2 May with a media night held last night (3 May 2011). During her curtain call Lloyd Webber was on hand to present an elated Evans with flowers as she took her bows with the rest of the cast.

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ will begin filming in Michigan July 25, extras casting underway   According to Production Weekly, Oz: The Great And Powerful, Disney’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz which stars James Franco and Mila Kunis and is being directed by Sam Raimi, begins filming in Michigan around July 25.  Pre-production has already begun with set construction underway at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac, MI and an open casting call for extras is expected to take place early next month.  They have already started casting for some specific background roles, including people 18 or older who are either 4-feet-10-inches and shorter or 6-feet-8-inches and taller. You can find the details for those casting calls at MichiganActing.com.

‘Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz’ Blu-ray Announced  Lions and tigers and bears (and cats and mice) on Blu-ray this August. Oh my…!  In an early announcement to retailers, Warner Brothers will release the animated movie ‘Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz’ on Blu-ray on August 23.  Specs and supplements have yet to be revealed, but the release will be a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack.  Suggested list price for the Blu-ray is $24.98.


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