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.

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