Oz in the News 12.22.11

KZN’s very own screen wizard   THE classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland has been described as the world’s most popular film, seen by more people — over a billion — than any other. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked it the 10th “Greatest Movie of All Time”.So perhaps it’s worth remembering that the main scribe involved in the film’s screenplay was a South African, Noel Langley, who was born in Durban on Christmas Day in 1911, 100 years ago. Langley is credited with the adaptation from L. Frank Baum’s original book (itself a classic, published in 1900) and shares the script credit with Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. Langley’s story is told in “Noel Langley and Co: Some South Africans in Showbiz Abroad”, a paper by Stephen Gray that will be published next year.

Wizard of Oz comes to India  A team of ten puppeteers from the Delhi-based group Puppet Studio have come together to bring to life the iconic characters created by L Frank Baum in his classic children’s novel, The Wizard of Oz. “ The play uses two kinds of puppetry traditional Dumkaroo puppets, where characters are made of thermocol and animated with rods. Contemporary glove puppetry has also been incorporated into the story telling.
Actors lip sync and use modulation to bring to life the American fantasy, which has been adapted for Indian audience. A medley of 10 songs has been made to take you through different moods and scenes. The songs have been written by Amit Gupta, 25, a software engineer, while city based band, The Outliner, has set them to peppy jazz tunes.

Young Santa Claus  Santa Claus: The Musical follows the basic outline of Baum’s book with select edits and embellishments to heighten the story’s dramatic arc. The baby Claus is abandoned in the woods, discovered by a woodsman named Auk (Greg Dulcie), and left in the care of a kindly sisterhood of nymphs. The grown-up Claus (Christopher Deaton) ventures out of his sylvan idyll into the real world, where children suffer from both grueling poverty and buzzkilling grown-ups known as the AWGWAs (Awful Wicked Gruesome Wretched Adults), who wish to destroy all the toys in the land. The main villains are the Baron Braun (Paul Grant), a corrupt sheriff who secretly loves a stuffed pig named Mr. Snouty, and the evil Frost Queen (Cara Statham Serber), who works overtime to keep the village kids unhappy. The show’s score contains a mix of familiar hymns and carols with new lyrics by Sturgeon and Jim Wren and completely new tunes with music by Wren and Joe O’Keefe.

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