Oz in the News 3.28.13

976669_t607Die-hard ‘Wizard of Oz’ fans collect pieces of cherished story  After serving as chief deputy agricultural commissioner of Ventura County all day long, Susan Johnson loved to escape to a magical place at the end of the day. No tornado necessary. All she had to do was crack open one of her Wizard of Oz books. “I’m the only person I know who can talk about the noncoastal zoning ordinance in one conversation and then go talk about the Wizard of Oz,” Johnson said. The now-retired agriculture official is among about 600 members of diehard Oz fans called the International Wizard of Oz Club.

“Oz” Musical by L. Frank Baum Show (it’s NOT “Wicked”)  The New American Folk Theatre will present the world premiere musical, “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” featuring music, book and direction by Anthony Whitaker and choreography by Jamal Howard. The show, running May 10 – June 2 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee, is based on the children’s novel of the same name by L. Frank Baum, the man behind “The Wizard of Oz.” According to Whitaker, this Oz book was adapted as a stage production that premiered at Chicago’s Garrick Theatre and “was later produced as a short silent film as part of L. Frank Baum’s Fairylogue and Radio Plays — an early ‘multi-media’ traveling production produced by Chicago’s Selig-Polyscope film studio, utilizing live actors, glass slides, hand-colored silent film and even Baum, himself, as the narrator.”  New American Folk Theatre’s original adaptation of the book, devised for family audiences. aims to bring the experience of the Fairylogue and Radio Plays back to life, and will employ various puppetry styles, including shadowplay, along with live actors.

The Great and Powerful Baum and Denslow  Baum inscribed a special message to a young reader on the endpaper of this first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The boy was likely the son of the illustrator Frank VerBeck, who illustrated Baum’s book, The Magical Monarch of Mo. To VerBeck, he writes, “The author presents his compliments to his young friend, Frank VerBeck, Jr., and assures him there are plenty of Wizards like Oz in the world, who may be easily ‘discovered’ if one keeps his eyes open. L. Frank Baum. Chicago Aug 15-1900.”

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