Oz in the News 12.31.11

Musical of the Month: “The Wizard of Oz” and Victor Herbert   Like any musical, The Wizard of Oz did not live in isolation. It constituted one point in a theatrical web of interactions between producers, writers, and players. Victor Herbert’s direct connections to the show through Fred R. Hamlin, Julian Mitchell, Glen MacDonough, Fred Stone, and David Montgomery resulted in two of the composer’s most celebrated early works, Babes in Toyland and The Red Mill.

‘Wicked’ offers a twist on one of the most beloved American stories  At the time Stephen Schwartz, 63, became aware of Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” Schwartz had sworn off Broadway. The composer, who launched his career with the Broadway hits “Godspell” (1971) and “Pippin” (1972), spent the 1990s writing music for animated films such as “Pocahantas,” for which he won two Academy Awards. But Schwartz said he knew as soon as he read “Wicked” that he yearned for Broadway again. “I found the idea of ‘Wicked’ irresistible,” he said. “The notion that someone thought to make the Wicked Witch of the West, quintessentially evil, the protagonist, appealed to me. I enjoy taking characters we know from another work and spinning them a bit.”

All Things Oz in Chittenango celebrates life and stories of L. Frank Baum   “This summer, we are featuring an exhibit which will be the ‘Top of the Line’ for Oz enthusiasts to see,” Evans said. The directors are keeping this surprise tightly guarded for now but plan to announce this “major attraction” soon. Curators are constantly preparing new features and bringing in new collections. “Each time someone visits they will find something new and exciting,” Zimmer said. Unlike Dorothy, the volunteers are not able to click the heels of their ruby slippers to obtain what they are seeking. While many have contributed, the museum needs more benefactors to flourish. It costs close to $2,000 monthly just to pay the rent and utilities and that does not include any funds to help the museum grow. One way that individuals can help save this museum is through the “It Takes Two” campaign. “We are asking Oz fans everywhere to send $2 to us,” Zimmer said. “In return, your name will appear in the ‘All Things Oz’ exhibit and on the It Takes Two club sign to be housed permanently in the museum.

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