Monthly Archives: September 2013

Oz in the News 9.30.13

-535d20c08ff7a0fdNot in Kansas anymore: Pennsville woman dedicates entire room to ‘Oz’  Amy Mumink first saw the “Wizard of Oz” when she was 4 and it has been a part of her life since.  In her room she has a countless number of dolls depicting all the characters from the movie, from Dorothy to the Tin Man. There is also a projector that will cast a rainbow image on the ceiling and a “Oz, The Great and Powerful” movie poster in her window, the 2013 fantasy adventure based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels.  “I think I got my first collectable when I was about 12,” said Mumink. The first collectable she got was a Glinda The Good Witch doll that, today, is sitting on her shelf. “She is a little worse for wear, but she is still up here.” There have been more things added to her collection since she was 12, including custom-made ruby slippers that she got for her 40th birthday and a letter from the son of a Munchkin with a personal check signed by his mother.

Farnsworth Presents The Wonderful World of Oz Exhibition on 75th Anniversary of Iconic Film  Included in the Farnsworth exhibition will be the most complete surviving costume (worn by the green Lollipop Guild Munchkin), one of Dorothy’s pinafores and blouses, examples of the many illustrated versions of Baum’s books (including the finest known copy of the first edition, first state “green imprint” of Baum’s initial book in the series), rare or one-of-a-kind posters from the various motion picture and stage productions, and a remarkable array of other Oz memorabilia from the Willard Carroll / Tom Wilhite Collection. Among the exhibition’s related programs will be:

  • Sunday, October 13, 1 p.m.: All Things Oz— a lecture by Willard Carroll in the Farnsworth auditorium
  • Sunday, October 20, at 2 p.m.: The Wizard of Oz, the original 1939 film shown in 35mm at The Strand Theatre
  • Saturday, November 16: Celebrate Toto’s Birthday!
  • Thursday, November 21, at 7 p.m.: A “Wicked” Evening with Author Gregory Maguire at the Camden Opera House – in collaboration with the Camden Public Library
  • Wednesday, December 18, at 2 p.m.: Lux Radio Theatre’s 1950 Christmas Special broadcast of The Wizard of Oz, with commentary by Willard Carroll and Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell, in the Farnsworth library.

Oz in the News 9.26.13

tn-500_img_9035a.jpg.pagespeed.ce.uV_5MoglIQTHE WIZARD OF OZ Celebrates Opening at the Pantages  Oz cast members also walked the red carpet including Danielle Wade (Dorothy), who was chosen by the Canadian public through CBC TV’s “Over The Rainbow.” Danielle was joined by one of Canada’s most respected and honored actors: Gemini-winner, film and theatre veteran, Cedric Smith (Wizard;) actor/choreographer Mike Jackson (Tin Man) whose credits include Chicago, Broadway/U.S. tour, Contact, U.S. tour;) Lee McDougall (Lion) star of Mamma Mia! (Toronto/U.S. tour) and a Dora Award winner for his play High Life; Jamie McKnight (Scarecrow), known for his performance in The Producers (Toronto) and as one of the Canadian Tenors; Robin Evan Willis (Glinda), star of many Shaw Festival productions; and Broadway and national tour veteran Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (Wicked Witch of the West) who has been featured in Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Closer Than Ever.

The Wizard of Oz: The touring production at the Pantages is relatively enjoyable despite a terrible reworking of the MGM Classic  Because the film is still beloved, as evidenced by the success of the recent 3-D/IMAX relaunch in theaters, it is not surprising that Andrew Lloyd Webber saw that the yellow-brick road may yield further gold. However, if I borrowed a book from the library and drew sloppy stick figures and incomprehensible dialogue bubbles on the pages, the library would throw the book back and charge me for vandalism. Andrew Lloyd Webber should be similarly charged with a felony for how he devalued a classic.

Wizard Games: Q&A with Walker Jones of ‘Wicked’  “I have the fortune to be playing the Wizard of Oz and when you hear the phrase ‘Wizard of Oz,’ everybody has a response to that and a lot of it has to do because many of us watching the classic film. With the character, there is a lot of build up and anticipation because you think, ‘Oh, my gosh, he’s the end-all, be-all, powerful, wise, loving and knowing being that is ruling this place’ because what you see in the original version, the 1939 film, is that he’s a very powerful human being. The wizard is all about the illusion of power and in our play, he’s a reflection of politicians. In several moments throughout the play, you get to see how the author has a wonderful perspective of how the people in power use their power to, in some ways, manipulate the masses.”

The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition  This perennial adulation is what leads studios to trot out anniversary editions every few years. The new set’s many tchotchkes — including a notebook, pins, and a snow globe — probably won’t be all that enticing to anyone other than collectors and obsessives, especially with a $105 price tag. But the film’s appeal is somehow still immune to Hollywood opportunism. In the face of such iconic moviemaking, cynicism melts away like a wetted witch.

Oz in the News 9.22.13

oz22f-10-webBig celebrations are already underway for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 75th anniversary  MGM’s 1939 Technicolor classic has been converted by Warner Bros. into a remastered 3-D version screening at 300 IMAX theaters through Friday. But that’s just the tip of the ruby slipper for Warner’s $25 million anniversary campaign.  Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are already everywhere — in Happy Meals and back on the big screen — and in the coming months are set to appear in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and even Dylan’s Candy Bar. The classic also hits the small screen this week. The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” hosts an Oz-themed challenge Saturday at 8 p.m., where contestants must bake sweets inspired by the beloved movie. And Thursday, QVC airs “The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Celebration” special, selling commemorative jewelry, toys and beauty products, such as the Julep four-piece nail polish collection with shades like “Ruby Slippers” red for $38.50, or Philosophy’s Emerald City/Yellow Brick Road shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath duo for $33.

‘Oz’ creator’s great-grandsons to attend OZtoberFest  Roger and Robert Baum, the great-grandsons of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” creator L. Frank Baum, are coming to Wamego to take part in the city’s Ninth Annual OZtoberFest on Saturday and Sept. 29, according to Brooke Rindt, marketing and retail specialist for the Columbian Theatre and Oz Museum, both in Wamego. Roger Baum is the author of more than a dozen Oz books and will be signing copies of his children’s books. Robert Baum and his wife, Clare, will appear in a historical costumed act as L. Frank Baum and his wife, Maud, at the Oz Museum’s Little Theatre. In addition to the Baums, Oz novelist Paul Miles Schneider, of Lawrence, will be signing copies of his books. Johnpaul Cafiero, a Franciscan friar whose family owns the thousands of Oz artifacts exhibited at the Oz Museum, also will attend the festival. Judy Garland documentarian and Oz historian John Fricke will present private video footage of the Hollywood “Yellow Brick Carpet” premiere for Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” as well as preview his new book, “The Wonderful World of Oz,” and show a recent video interview with the late Munchkin actress Margaret Pellegrini. Also attending the festival is Myra Swensen, known as “the missing Munchkin,” Rindt said. Swensen was supposed to be in the “Wizard of Oz” movie, but she had to withdraw from the film to undergo surgery to remove her appendix. She later married Clarence Swensen, an actor who appeared as a Munchkin soldier in the movie.

Oz in the News 9.21.13

What’s the Most Important Song in ‘The Wizard of Oz’? (Hint: It’s Not the One You Think)  Though you might not recognize the tune by name, you certainly know it by ear: It’s a stark, seven-note motif that goes “da-na da-na da-na naaaaa” and plays every time Almira Gulch and/or her Dorothy-dream alter ego, the Wicked Witch of the West, pops up on screen. While it’s certainly not the easiest piece of music to reference — the clunky name doesn’t help, nor does its lack of lyrics — it is still one of the most recognizable in film history, as well as the most important song in “Oz.” Yes, the most important. (Cue Judy Garland fans running after me with pitchforks.)

Oz in the News 9.19.13

Original Oz Munchkin Jerry Maren Places Hands In Cement                         

Jerry Maren, 93 – was at the TCL Chinese Theatre, formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Wednesday in Los Angeles for a hand-and-foot-print ceremony.  The theater is actually the same location of the film’s original Hollywood premiere on Aug. 15, 1939.  Maren, dressed very dapper in a checkered shirt and blue sweater vest, proudly sang “The Lollipop Guild” for the crowd and even added a small dance move or two.

This scathing 1939 review is the worst critique of The Wizard of Oz on record  “The Wizard of Oz was intended to hit the same audience as Snow White, and won’t fail for lack of trying. It has dwarfs, music, technicolor, freak characters, and Judy Garland. It can’t be expected to have a sense of humor as well — and as for the light touch of fantasy, it weighs like a pound of fruitcake soaking wet. Children will not object to it, especially as it is a thing of many interesting gadgets; but it will be delightful for children mostly to their mothers, and any kid tall enough to reach up to a ticket window will be found at the Tarzan film down the street. The story of course has some lovely and wild ideas—men of straw and tin, a cowardly lion, a wizard who isn’t a very good wizard — but the picture doesn’t know what to do with them, except to be painfully literal and elaborate about everything…”

Oz in the News 9.18.13

5238c71da9979.preview-620‘Oz’ gets $25 million promo, including Munchkin guest  The studio is spending an “over the rainbow” amount of $25 million this month for promotion to push the 75th Anniversary launch of the original movie converted to 3D for IMAX theaters. On Sunday, the new 3D film version was screened for celeb guests in Hollywood at the new TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. This is the same theater space that was originally Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where the film premiered in 1939. Attending Sunday’s all-star event were Mario Lopez, Molly Ringwald, Kevin Sorbo, all posing for photos with the new Dorothy (as played by Garland) wax figure unveiled by Madame Tussauds Hollywood. But best of all the special guest of the day was Munchkin Ruth Duccini, 95, one of our regular celebrity guests at the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival. She, along with Lollipop Munchkin Jerry Maren, 93, are the final two surviving Munchkins.

Oz Revisited: Why We Still Follow the Yellow Brick Road Part I International film remakes have run the gamut from, O to Z, in ‪Japan, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Lithuania. Disney has mounted a sequel (the 1985 Return to Oz) and a prequel (this year’s Oz the Great and Powerful). The Wiz, a black-cast Broadway show, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical and ran for four years, was filmed in 1978 with Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. The stage musical Wicked, a revisionist tribute to the mean, green Witch of the West, has been entrancing Broadway audiences for the past decade. It will mark its 10th anniversary on Oct. 20.

Oz Revisited – Part 2: How They Made It Wonderful  In many ways Baum prefigured Walt Disney (who in the 1930s had hoped to make an animated feature of the Baum book, but MGM secured the rights first). He invented characters that lodged in the popular imagination, then extended their lives in sequels and translated them into other media. Like Disney, Baum became nearly as famous as his creations, not by hosting a TV show but by touring cross-country. And in 1905 he announced an Oz theme park, which he never realized. In fact, his dreams crashed when he invested much of his fortune in Oz movies. That made him another kind of American icon: the big dreamer who can’t write himself a happy ending.

Oz in the News 9.16.13

ruthInside ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 75th Anniversary: William Shatner, Ruby Slippers and a Real Munchkin  Warner Bros. converted the lobby of the Chinese 6, the adjacent movie theater, into an Emerald City with a green crystal theme, a nail station, a lion-sized cupcake station, Oz-themed video games, a life-size wax figure of Judy Garland as Dorothy from Madame Tussauds and, guarded by three security guards, the actual pair of ruby slippers worn by Garland for the scene when she clicks her heels. Amid the fun was Ruth Duccini, one of only two surviving Munchkin actors. The 95-year-old was in a wheelchair but stopped to check out the nail station and later munched on a pizza as she told THR how she was 20 when she appeared in the movie. Her fondest recollection from the set wasn’t a particular scene or how the movie was embraced in later years but “meeting all those other little people,” she said. “I was born in Minnesota in a small town, and I didn’t know that there were other people like me. It’s really nice to have little people to talk to. You’re not talking to someone’s belly button!”

First review: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 3-D  Kudos to the 3-D technicians who have precisely calibrated the stereoscopic effects, most lightly used (but still noticeable) in the black-and-white Kansas scenes, except for the tornado which was never anywhere quite as effective in 2-D. Most terrifying in the Technicolor main portion is the attack of the flying monkeys, which blows away a similar-sequence in this year’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” which was actually shot in 3-D. As James Cameron demonstrated with the conversion of “Titanic,” 3-D is best used to accent important objects and things — like the ruby slippers and the Wicked Witch’s nose. The vintage special effects hold up extremely well — the sole exception being the crude back projection when Dorothy’s house is traveling to Oz during the tornado, which is mostly played for laughs anyway. The crowd shots — the Munchins and the throngs in the Emerald City — are handled nicely. The obviously painted backgrounds in some scenes are gently sculptured.

The Wizard of Oz Brisbane Festival: Roundhouse: Dangerous Ensemble’s tale is a long way from Kansas – but this inventive take on the classic story doesn’t quite deliver  

Danger Ensemble and la Boite’s vivid reimagining of Dorothy’s trek to the Emerald City has a real cracker of a central concept; an idea that plays with identities and realities, simultaneously exploiting our familiarity with the tale, and distancing itself from it. Dane Alexander’s compelling score might be about as far from Over the Rainbow as Judy is from sober, but we have Dorothy, Toto and their unfeeling, cowardly, brainless companions. (Although admittedly, Toto used to smoke less). All that’s missing is the ruby slippers – transformed here into teetering silver platforms. It all looks very convincing, with Simone Romaniuk’s exhilarating costumes setting the tone for the performance in this interesting space; the munchkins as neon rave kids, a hipster scarecrow, lion and tin man, and the wicked witch, swathed in a sculptural dress, adopting the stance of a high-fashion model. It’s fabulous – and stimulating – to look at, properly intergrated into a show that aims to confront and surprise.

Oz in the News 9.13.13

Autumn-at-Oz-006a-CREDIT-Billy-FergusonThe Land of Oz Theme Park Awakens for the 20th Annual Autumn at Oz Party Scheduled for Oct. 5-6  When the Land of Oz theme park awakens the first weekend in October for its yearly Autumn at Oz party, it will celebrate two milestones. The first milestone is the 75th anniversary of the “Wizard of Oz” movie, while the second is the 20th anniversary of Autumn at Oz itself, which began two decades ago as a reunion for park employees to pay tribute to the once-popular place that time had forgotten. There will be vendors selling Oz-related merchandise, vendors selling a variety of foods and a mini-Oz museum with artifacts from the park and from the actual movie.  Live bluegrass and country music will entertain guests as they wait to enter Dorothy’s house and start their journey. New this year will be a Kansas skit performed by cast members.

Opry Mills, Tennessee celebrates 75th anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz’  Explore the magical world of Oz at Opry Mills. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the classic “The Wizard of Oz,” the mall offers a variety of acitivities inspired by the film this Saturday. Each attendee will a receive a map leading to stations in the mall. At the stations, guests can watch clips from the film, create crafts, color doodles, take pictures with cut-out characters and grab some giveaways. Children who dress up as a character from the movie will also receive a gift and a chance to win passes to see the movie in 3D.

Oz in the News 9.12.13

viewd-after_590Converting The Wizard of Oz to 3D – How Prime Focus Put New Depth in the Picture While Honoring the Original Work  In a way, the real challenge wasn’t the film’s condition, but its style of filmmaking — specifically, the more leisurely editorial sensibility of Hollywood’s Golden Age means there are fewer edits, and viewers have more time to examine each shot. “To give you some ballpark numbers, a 100-minute movie today is between 800 and 2,200 shots,” explained Del Conte. “Wizard was just about 650. It affected how our roto and paint teams would approach the work. We really adjusted our workflow to compensate for so many long shots.” Among the biggest challenges on The Wizard of Oz were the shots with dancing Munchkins, which featured anywhere from 50 to 100 extras spinning around (with their limbs moving toward and away from the camera repeatedly) amongst the film’s detailed foliage and other set dressing. Accuracy was a requirement, especially in close-up sots depicting iconic characters like Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion. “We had to be very accurate with the sculpting,” Jones said. “We don’t do any automated processes. The more you automate 3D, the worse it looks. So we really put a lot of focus on character sculpting – making sure it’s accurate and that you’re getting the same detail you would if you shot it. And getting that in shots that are more than 1000 frames long, the accuracy has to go way up.”

Follow the yellow brick road to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Smith Center  “The Wizard of Oz” is not as spectacular as Cirque du Soleil, but there is refreshingly no acrobatics. It’s not as hip or as current as a twerking Miley Cyrus or a Macklemore rap, but for the audience and me, that was a real pleasure. The energy, the effects and the costumes all made for an enjoyable experience of understanding the real meaning of “there’s no place like home.” Even with touring shows, understudies never substitute for listed performers unless a specific announcement is made before curtain up. Believe it or not, Nigel as Toto — in the role since 2009 — even has an understudy, and Loki is just as adorable.

Oz in the News 9.11.13

Wizard-of-Oz-web_674221aaf8c812e0cffb45571366b321The Dangerous Wizard of Oz  The Wizard of Oz narrative is embedded in the collective unconscious, thanks to Judy Garland and MGM. But Wright says he’s reinterpreting it for a younger audience, one capable of 4G-fast assimilation, at least when it comes to image. “They’re also highly visually literate,” he says. “They can read and perceive story and intention through image much faster than a generation 20 years ago could. The nature of theatrical work these days is that in my opinion it is a visual art as much as it is a written and oral and auditory work.” This Wizard is described as “a fantastical world of couture-clad witches and bondage-bound munchkins, in a land where high-fashion visual art show meets Australiana in an explosion of glitter, glory, and goddamn rainbows”. There’s a camp sensibility at work here, but also an emotional depth, hinted at when Wright veers from a discussion of camp to older women and their dreams of liberation.

Oz Themed West Elementary School in Long Beach Opens its Doors for the First Time Since Hurricane Sandy  On the first day of classes Monday, teachers and students shuffled into the Wizard of Oz themed building. Staff wore ruby red slippers, the sidewalk leading to the school was painted yellow, and an assortment of bright colored balloons flew over the entrances. The theme was to let students know there’s no place like home, and after a year of recovery, they finally made it back.