Oz in the News 9.20.11

Festival celebrates all things Oz  “Oz is a difficult subject to handle because you have millions of Oz fans and it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the writer,” Baum said, “because you don’t want to offend the audience. And you’re dealing with a classic so what you’re doing is staying within certain parameters. No true gore or blood and guts.”


Three decades down the Yellow Brick Road  When Mary Reinhart and fellow members of the organizing committee for the annual Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival were discussing who should be the celebrity grand marshal for this year’s parade, the decision was easy. Ryan and Roland Carroll aka “The Carroll Brothers” are the producers of a new feature film by Summertime Entertainment called “Dorothy of Oz” reaching theaters next summer and the duo are in Chesterton this weekend to soak up “everything that is Oz.”

Munchkin Midget Bar in Chicago  The late Parnell St. Aubin was just 16 when he played one of the tiny Munchkin soldiers leading the parade to herald Dorothy‘s arrival and house drop on the Wicked Witch of the East. His widow, Mary Ellen, who is in town this weekend for the festival, has faithfully attended the event almost every year. She celebrates her 91st birthday on Sept. 21. She never appeared in the classic 1939 film, but has always shared her husband’s pride for his involvement in this piece of movie history.  In later years, the tiny couple owned and operated their own bar on Chicago’s southside called The Midget Club, which was originally located at 6356 S. Kedzie Ave. and then at 4016 W. 63rd St. They owned and operated it from 1948 to 1982.

A “golden landmark”  Kathleen Sorbello Di Scenna has set herself a difficult challenge: she’s trying to save a house at 678 W. Onondaga St. in Syracuse that’s got a strong connection to L. Frank Baum, the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author.
Kathleen calls the house “a golden landmark in our city.” She’s the Lyman Frank Baum Foundation, a not-for-profit group trying to raise “at least $150,000 to help fix the house. The house cannot stand another harsh winter,” according to her.  This is the so-called Neal House, home to Harriet Baum and William Neal. It’s where Frank Baum met his future wife, Maud Gage, in December of 1881. “The project is now urgent,” Kathleen writes. “Please help. We’re looking for fundraisers, donations, not-profit groups, media support.” Contact her at 278-7029.

‘Wicked’ author Gregory Maguire to visit Wichita in November Maguire will make an appearance and sign copies of his new “Out of Oz” at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the new Forum Theatre for the Performing Arts at 147 S. Hillside. “We’re thrilled,” said Beth Golay of Watermark. She said the bookstore had this pitch for Maguire’s publicist: “We’ve had to live with ‘you’re not in Kansas anymore’ for so long, don’t you think we deserve to have him here for the final book in the Oz series?”

“Wizard of Oz”, others top BFCA’s Blu-Ray list  The greatest Blu-Ray discs of all time, according to the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., are “Apocalypse Now,” “Avatar,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the “Planet of the Apes” box set, “The Wizard of Oz” and the complete “Lord of the Rings” set.

Gina Beck & Matt Willis Join West End Wicked, 12 Dec  The new cast of Whatsonstage.com Award-winning musical Wicked has been announced with Gina Beck and Matt Willis taking over the roles of Glinda and Fiyero from 12 December 2011. The pair are joined in the cast by Lillie Flynn as Nessarose, Christopher Howell as Doctor Dillamond and Adam Pettigrew as Boq. Desmond Barrit, who first starred in Wicked in 2008, returns to the role of The Wizard.

Diablo Theatre Company Hip Hops Down the Yellow Brick Road   Taking a cue from the street by collaborating with FUNKMODE, a Pleasant Hill hip-hop centered company with a large nternet following, DTC pushes The Wizard of Oz into the present day. Witches fly, the Scarecrow bugaloos, the Tinman pops, and even Dorothy grooves beyond the skippity-hop made musical theater cliché by the 1939 film version of L. Frank Baum’s novel.


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