Monthly Archives: September 2012

Oz in the News 9.29.12

Marvel’s ROAD TO OZ a Personal Journey for Series Writer  The Road to Oz was the first of Baum’s Oz books that I ever read. (Actually my parents read it to me because I was still learning to read.) So I’m excited to be adapting the whole thing for comics readers, since it has a personal resonance in my life and love for Oz. It’s also the first Oz book we’ve adapted that, as far as I can think, hasn’t ever been adapted to another medium before. There’s a Little Golden Book abridgement and there are audio versions, but it’s one of the Oz books that gets passed over for adaptation. That’s because the plot isn’t very strong. The strength of The Road to Oz lies in the characters, and the new main characters are really good ones: the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright and Polychrome. They all have well-defined personalities and I think readers will have a fun time going on this adventure with them.

Andrew Lloyd Webber talks Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats, The Wizard of Oz and Over the Rainbow If you had an hour to sit down privately with Andrew Lloyd Webber, would you ask him all about the high points of his career? Don’t. The disasters are much more fun. We’re here because of Over the Rainbow, the CBC-TV reality show that will cast the lead role of Dorothy in the Mirvish version of Lloyd Webber’s hit production of The Wizard of Oz, which starts in December. It is the eighth such TV program he’s done in recent years. He says they’re “all different, yet somehow the same.” The night before the interview, he had to trim the 20 potential Dorothys down to 10 and he didn’t enjoy the task. “They’re all so young, so talented and still so very impressionable. One knows that no matter how nicely one lets them go, they’re going to be very hurt.

Oz in the News 9.28.12

Hartford Arts Academy celebrates Judy Garland with historian John Fricke  John Fricke, author of “Judy Garland: A Portrait in Art and Anecdote” and “Judy Garland: World’s Greatest Entertainer,” arrived in Hartford on Monday to begin a week long collaboration with CREC’s Art Academy Musical Theater Department Chair Eric Larivee and the students, as they rehearse an original production, “To Judy with Love,” which will be performed at the Theater of the Performing Arts in the Learning Corridor on the Academy’s campus this Saturday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, September 30, at 2 p.m. Fricke, 61 and a resident of New York City, indicated that he and Larivee have been discussing this collaboration for several years. “We want the students and the audience to have an idea of what the genuine article was about,” he says, referring to Garland. Their goal is to get information about Judy out in an entertaining way that clears up the inaccurate myths and conveys the energy and power of the performer during the 90th anniversary year of her birth, he stated.

Oztoberfest to feature 89-year-old Munchkin  Margaret Pelligrini, who at 89 is the youngest of the three still-living actors who played a Munchkin in the 1939 movie musical “The Wizard of Oz,” will join Wamego on Saturday as it celebrates its eighth annual Oztoberfest. Pelligrini has attended all of the Oztoberfests, which were begun after the Oz Museum opened in downtown Wamego. She will be the only Munchkin actor in attendance as their ranks have dwindled in the 74 years since filming began on the MGM Studio lots in Culver City, Calif.

Oz in the News 9.27.12

Munchkin returning to visit Wamego’s Oztoberfest  Margaret Pelligrini, one of the original Munchkins in the 1939 MGM motion picture “The Wizard of Oz,” will be the featured guest at Oztoberfest, Sept. 29 and 30. “Margaret has been with us nearly every year of our festival,” said Salina Morgan, manager of the Oz Museum. “She will have celebrated her 89th birthday just a few days before our festival, but she is determined to come and be a part of our celebration.”

Wizard of Oz: Three Ontario terriers to share Toto role in Andrew Lloyd Webber production  Toto is indeed a coveted canine role, as is evident by those vying for the honourary title on CBC’s talent show Over the Rainbow, a nation-widesearch for who will star as Dorothy onstage. In the spirit of that search, the show’s production team thought it would be fun to also have Canada select its favourite Toto. Ten pooches were chosen at Woofstock, the continent’s largest festival for dogs. Each week, there will be an elimination round following a Toto challenge, which includes doggie tricks and sports. Judges will whittle down the selection to the top three. Then it’s up to viewers to vote. “We picked the dogs that were lovable — all sizes, all breeds — and we’ve laughed and enjoyed the process of working with them so much,” said Don Weiner, executive producer of Over the Rainbow, which airs Sundays and Mondays. “The Totos have been a real highlight for us. We’ve really fallen in love with them.”

Oz in the News 9.20.12

Lloyd Webber confident viewers will pick the right Dorothy for upcoming ‘Oz’  Andrew Lloyd Webber had no qualms about tinkering with “The Wizard of Oz” for a Toronto-bound stage production, noting many fans of the original “Oz” books by L. Frank Baum weren’t happy with the ending of the classic 1939 movie anyway. “There are a lot of people … who passionately feel the film let everything down because it basically said (Dorothy) was knocked on her head and had a dream,” the 64-year-old theatre guru said earlier this week in an interview. “The whole point about the book — whatever you make of the book — is that Oz was real.”

The Red Queen of Oz Graphic Novel Featured on Kickstarter  Writer Bryan Wiegele and illustrator Simon Rosati hope to raise $2,750 on Kickstarter to fund the production and self-publishing costs for The Red Queen of Oz. They hope to release the graphic novel in February 2013. This book features a story that brings together Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. We’ve embedded a video about the project  above–what do you think? Here’s more about the project: “It’s the tale of two young girls, both with extraordinary experiences of their own, who must set aside petty differences to stop the diabolical Red Queen of Hearts from her destructive rampage that has already ruined Wonderland and now threatens Oz. This is a completely original story based on characters and events from the original books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass written by Lewis Carroll, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum.”

The Red Queen of Oz Video Preview

Oz in the News 9.19.12

New Pixar Vinylmations Including ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’  Disney collectors lose their minds for Vinylmations: three inch tall molds of Mickey Mouse painted in all kinds of different ways. Some Vinylmations are simply just artistic designs, others are specific to certain places or brands, but they’re only sold in Disney parks and stores. That, along with some characters being rarer than others and entire lines being regularly retired, make for very collectible pieces of Disney merchandise. Disney has just revealed the latest set of Vinylmations and it’s focused on their tiny animation studio in northern California: Pixar. Characters from all of Pixar’s movies have been adapted into the Vinylmation mold from A Bug’s Life, to Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille. There’s even a set for 2013′s Oz the Great and Powerful.

Dominic Wilcox’s Designer Shoes Make Dorothy’s Red Slippers A Reality  More than likely you’ve seen Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy’s ruby red slippers ‘magically’ have the ability to transport her home with just three clicks. British designer Dominic Wilcox has decided to build on that concept creating GPS shoes that literally can guide you home with the click of the heels. Inside the heels is a GPS unit that is activated when they click together. The toes start to twinkle, thanks to a circle of LED lights. These lights than point in the direction in which you should be traveling to get home.

Review: Lexington Children’s Theatre’s ‘Oz’ imaginatively goes inside famous tale  In the case of Oz, playwright Patrick Shanahan takes it one step further. His script not only takes the audience back to the original version of L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, complete with silver shoes instead of the film version’s ruby slippers, but directly into the author’s world: The entire play is set in one room of Baum’s 1899 Chicago home. Imaginatively staged and performed, Oz achieves more than storytelling but shows the audience how to find inspiration in our everyday surroundings.

Wizard of Oz tryouts  London actor Cassandra Hodgins has survived the first round of cuts on the CBC show Over The Rainbow. The 17-year-old London actor cracked the top 10 actors vying for the role of Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz opening for previews in December at Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. Every Sunday, the show features individual and group performances of the actors in front of a panel of judges (including Webber) with the public voting for their favourite Dorothy on the CBC television website,’s The Wizard of Oz Show returns to the Concourse  Kids can rap with the tinman, roar like a lion, wake up the sleepy Shakey the scarecrow, and dance with Dorothy in this interactive, new adaptation of one of the world’s best-loved fairy tales. “Our shows are really about inviting kids to get up and move around, to relate to our music and to laugh and have a great time,” director Brian Laul says. Kids are invited to come dressed as their favourite characters.

Oz in the News 9.18.12

Munchkins return to Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival   Autographs from Wizard of Oz film celebrities were available at various times over the event filled Oz Festival weekend. Here Munchkin wives Mary Ellen St. Aubin, Myrna Swensen and original Munchkin from the movie Margaret Pellegrini, sign autographs for festival goers Sunday afternoon before heading to the bandstand for festival closing ceremonies.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Detroit Zoo’s Wild Adventure 3-D/4-D Theater  There’s no place like the Detroit Zoo this Halloween season as the Wild Adventure 3-D/4-D Theater presents a limited engagement of “The Wizard of Oz”. During October, visitors can join Dorothy Gale and her friends as they make their way to the Emerald City to meet the great and powerful wizard. This condensed version of the beloved classic takes audiences somewhere over the rainbow and back again in just 15 minutes.  The Wild Adventure 3-D/4-D Theater engages all of the senses with special effects that make “The Wizard of Oz” even more spectacular. Viewers will be blown away by swirling wind and debris as a powerful twister transports Dorothy and Toto to the merry old land of Oz. They’ll feel the thud as her house drops on the Wicked Witch of the East and smell the fragrant flowers that greet her as she discovers she’s not in Kansas anymore – and that’s just the beginning of the 4-D surprises.

‘Pegger Inching Closer to Role in Canadian ‘Oz’ Play  Winnipeg actress Colleen Furlan was revealed as one of the top 10 finalists on CBC’s “Over the Rainbow” Sunday night. The 19-year-old University of Manitoba student was shortlisted earlier in the summer to audition for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber as one of the Dorothy characters in Webber’s upcoming Canadian production of “The Wizard of Oz.” The public votes for their favourite Dorothy via the show’s app, online or by phone. The bottom two Dorothys then go head-to-head to see who will be sent home. The first round of elimination happens tonight at 8 p.m. CT.

Oz in the News 9.17.12

Character Designs For Japanese Oz Toys  A very interesting project depicting the research and art designs behind creating a Tin-Man toy to be produced in Japan.


Local actress on Yellow Brick Road, hopes to meet the Wizard of Oz She’s off to see the Wizard … and Winnipegger Colleen Furlan has her sights set on collecting the prize that waits at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. “It would make my whole life,” said the 19-year-old musical-theatre performer, who today will be named as one of the Top 10 finalists in the CBC reality/competition series Over the Rainbow. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come along very often, especially for a young performer who’s just trying to break into the business. Basically, being on a show like this, and winning it, would make your whole career. I would be so grateful, because I really can’t see myself doing anything else other than performing.”

Over the Rainbow: Andrew Lloyd Webber chooses shortlist for Wizard of Oz reality show  Why Barbados for The Wizard of Oz? Wouldn’t Kansas have been more appropriate? Ah, but Sir Andrew doesn’t have a home in Kansas and he does in Barbados. In fact, his estate this evening was where the 20 candidates were being cut. “This is the eighth program of this type I’ve done over the years,” Lloyd Webber said the following afternoon, unwinding over a glass of white wine in a local hotel, “and they’re all different and yet somehow they’re the same. The secret is in trying to get to the essence of just what this particular role needs from the person you cast in it.”

Wizard of Oz parade blows into Chesterton  Dan Thome and his family have been coming to Chesterton’s Wizard of Oz Festival for the past 23 years, traveling from Grand Rapids, Mich., with his mother Pat, his aunt, and an entourage of friends in tow since 1989. But this year, Thome says a new family member has been officially added to the caravan, and Saturday morning’s parade was only one way they were celebrating with their dog who made the trip. The dog’s name? Toto, of course. “I’m a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz and we love coming here. Toto is making his debut this year and was blessed by Munchkin Margaret Pelligrini (Flower Pot Lady). It’s just such a nice little hometown here with friendly people and we stay all weekend,” Thome said.

Oz in the News 9.15.12

LaSalle’s Danielle Wade a finalist in CBC’s search for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz By conservative estimates, Danielle Wade figures she’s sung Over the Rainbow 100 times in the last two weeks. And she’ll be singing it a lot more as one of 10 finalists of CBC-TV’s star search series, Over The Rainbow, announced today. The series which premieres Sunday will find the next Dorothy for an Andrew Lloyd Webber production of The Wizard of Oz opening in Toronto in December. The 20-year-old LaSalle native was picked from 20 semifinalists who attended so-called Dorothy Farm in late August. The intense outdoor camp north of Toronto proved to be more than just a chance to show off performing chops, said Wade. “It was intense and very exciting. I learned a lot about myself and my craft.”

Follow the yellow brick road … to Chesterton  As in past years, many people associated with the 1939 film will be attending this year’s fest. Margaret Pellegrini, one of three remaining original Munchkins, is expected to again this year’s festival. Munchkins by marriage Mary Ellen St Aubin and Myrna Swensen are scheduled to attend in memory of their husbands, as will Judy Garland stand-in Caren Marsh-Doll. Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of Oz author L. Frank Baum, will introduce his new book, “The Oz Enigma,” at this year’s festival. Prerelease copies of the book will be available at the festival prior to national distribution later this year.

Polk County Cadets are taking a trip ‘Over the Rainbow’ The Polk County Cadets are stepping out of this world and into the land of Oz. Pulling themes from three major works, the Cadets’ “The Wicked Women of Oz” marching band show will bring back favorite Oz characters, including Dorothy, Elphaba and Glinda. The show includes musical selections from “The Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked” and “The Wiz.” Fans can expect to see the band led by characters from Oz. The color guard will be dressed as Dorothy, complete with ruby slippers. Dorothy’s house, which was lifted up by a tornado in “The Wizard of Oz,” will appear on the field.

Journey to Oz  Emily Blake’s journey on the yellowbrick road ended before she reached the Emerald City. But even though she didn’t make it to her final destination, she gained valuable experiences along the way. Passing the first round meant she had to go to Toronto June 20 for the final elimination while the producers whittled down the girls to the 10 that would appear on the show. In Toronto the hopeful contestants did segments on news channels to promote the upcoming show.

Toto, The Wizard of Oz Dog (1932-1945)  Terry’s owner and trainer was a man named Carl Spitz. He ran the Hollywood Dog Training School. Spitz adopted Terry in 1933, when she was just a year old. He had no plans for Terry to become a movie star. Her original owner had left Terry to be trained, but then never returned to pick her up. Terry was to appear in 15 films altogether. The Wizard of Oz was the only one in which she actually got a screen credit. Her first appearance was in Ready For Love in 1934. This was just one month before her first major film with a big star. Later that year, Terry appeared with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes, playing the role of “Rags.” In 1938, Terry was taken to a casting call looking for a dog that resembled Dorothy’s black dog in the Wizard of Oz books. Terry was hired on the spot and immediately began living the high life. This meant living for two weeks at Judy Garland’s house! Judy became quite fond of the dog and wanted to adopt Terry after filming ended, but Carl Spitz said no.

Theatre Arts Presents THE LOST PAGES OF OZ AND THE RISE OF THE WINGED MONKEYS Shortly after Dorothy and the Wizard return to Kansas, the Wizard discovers that their adventures were more than a dream. He invents the technology to travel to the future of Oz, where he discovers the Winged Monkeys’ hostile takeover. The Wizard follows the Red Brick Road to rescue the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion. They then form an alliance with the Winkies and a newly created species to stop the Winged Monkeys’ resurrection of the Wicked Witch and save the Land of Oz.

London canine star Toto in Webber’s Oz  One of the stars of this year’s The Wizard of Oz at Huron Country Playhouse, a London-based Norfolk terrier named Tilley, is headed to Toronto to star as Toto in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz at Ed Mirvish Theatre opening for premiers in mid-December. “I’m ‘over the rainbow,’ ” said Tilley’s owner and trainer Terry Shevchenko of London. Tilley, 9, will be joined by its twin brothers, Winny and Neddy, 6, also owned and trained by Shevchenko.

Oz in the News 9.10.12

‘Wizard of Oz’ costume designs to go on sale nationally  Next Halloween you’ll be able to costume the munchkins in your life in the same rich detail worn by Sam Allred when he was the Mayor of Munchkinland in a local production of “The Wizard of Oz” earlier this year. You have Wasilla costume designer Roxann Benbow to thank for the privilege. “Well, I am just in shock, personally,” she said. “Usually in order to get a pattern in a catalog like that you have to go to design school.” She’s studied sewing, but never dreamed McCall’s Patterns would be interested in her work.

Amsterdam CD set for November 12 UK release  Judy Garland – The Amsterdam Concert is set for a November 12 UK release.  “Special pre-release offer: from 29 October, this album can be purchased direct from this website at a special reduced price. The offer will end on 11 November.”

Sponsor a Poor Child to See THE WIZARD OF OZ  “We should encourage our children as early as three years old to watch musical productions to help them develop their creativity and imagination,” said Joy Virata, artistic director of Rep’s Children’s Theater, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Rep’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” is an adaptation of the all-time classic tale, with music by Jeanne Bargy and Jim Eiler, and book and lyrics by Eiler. This particular presentation does not include any of the songs from the popular MGM film of the same name (ergo, the Academy Award winning song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is not part of the repertoire).

Road to Oz #1  “Road to Oz” #1 isn’t the most compelling opening for Shanower and Young’s Oz adaptations but that may be due, at least in part, to remaining faithful to the material. Regardless, there’s no doubt, even with a slow start, that this limited series will be of the same high-quality and attention to detail as those that have come before. Shanower and Young are a gift to comics, and their interest in kid-friendly material — all too rare in today’s comics landscape — is something for which we should all be grateful.

Comic Con Express finds many admirers in the IT city  Arun Prasad has been collecting comic books for a long time. His rare collection even includes a copy of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in Kannada called ‘Mayalokada Mantravadi’, published by Amar Chitra Katha. “Amar Chitra Katha editors came to me and admitted that they didn’t have so many editions that I’ve got.”

Oz in the News 9.7.12

Skottie Young Revisits the Emerald City in “Road to Oz”  I guess the original illustrations are my first place I look, but they inform the character designs more than the style. But before I look to that, I always start with Baum’s text.  Enrique Fernandez is a brilliant artist that produced an adaptation of Oz in France, later published by Image here in the States. I had the French edition for years when I took this job, so I knew that was something I needed to put away and try to erase from my mind. He nailed it in my mind so it was going to be hard to shake it. But I did an OK job of taking my own path. I basically just start drawing and try to push myself as far as possible while staying true to the Baum story.

Illustrator’s Latest Show Taps Into ‘The Wonder of Oz’  On Wednesday, September 5th, from 5PM to 11PM, Long Beach resident and children’s book illustrator Arlene Booth debuts “The Wonders of Oz,” an ironic and whimsical artistic interpretation of her favorite classic American story. The exhibition, hosted by 4th Street’s Art du Vin, consists of fifteen original works ranging from “Tallest Man” featuring a munchkin on stilts, to “Son of Can” a reimagining of The Tin Man as the apple hidden mystery man from Rene Magritte’s “Son of Man.”  “The Wizard of Oz is by far my favorite movie,” Arlene says. “I had it on repeat while I was working on the exhibition, I must have seen it hundreds of times, and it still hasn’t gotten old.”

Off to See the Wizard: The Wiyos bring their traditional yet cutting-edge sound to Tucson for the first time “This is a movie that most people in this country have seen, some more than others, or at least they are familiar with the aspects of it,” Farkas says. “Everyone knows something about it, so to some degree, they know a little of what to expect, but you can also draw on their familiarity to work with themes and structure. And in terms of allegory and symbolism, it is an endless treasure of material.”

No place like home for Kohl’s Wizard of Oz exhibit  The new exhibit features W.W. Denslow’s famous illustrations, which helped inspire the design of the film everyone knows and loves. Sheridan Turner, president and CEO at Kohl, says it’s particularly exciting to have the exhibit in Chicago, the city where Denslow and author L. Frank Baum worked together on the project. “The entire exhibit is very whimsical and bright,” says Turner. “Children will love it because it’s a story they are so familiar with.”