Oz in the News 4.30.14

More than the Wizard: the world of Oz expands with new movie  “I used to walk thru Oz Park on my way to school,” says Ryan Carroll, one third of production company Summertime Entertainment, which is behind the new animated feature. “I always thought [they were] a good series of books and I always thought it’d be a great animated story.” So along with Bonne Radford (who helped found Dreamworks Animation,) Carroll and his brother, both Rogers Park-bred and Mather High School graduates with deep roots in Chicago’s theater community, got to work. About seven years ago they contacted Roger S. Baum, the great grandson. The younger Baum had taken up great grand-dad’s mantle, and at the age of 40 had started fleshing out the kingdom of Oz with more books. To date he’s written 21 books to accompany the elder Baum’s 62.

This Oz trip hits the mark  The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre production of “Ozma of Oz: A Tale of Time,” a stage adaption of the third Oz novel by L. Frank Baum opens on a minimalist set that consists of a stack of rainbow-colored suitcases, a wardrobe shaped box, a bucket and mop and chains hanging from the risers. A child seated behind me asked, “What is the bucket for? What are the chains for?” The child’s father answered wisely, “I don’t know, but we’ll find out.” We immediately find out the purpose of the bucket when sailors Sam and Steve (robustly played by Severina Nina Mijan and Mason Alexander Stanley) begin to swab the deck of a ship on which Dorothy and her Uncle Henry are sailing to Australia. Dorothy is now 13 with a teenaged-sized attitude. She would just as soon the ship turn right around and head back in the general direction of Kansas and the high school football hero she left behind. Morgan Johnson plays Dorothy with a believable adolescent headstrongness. Her simple blue dress and red slippers evoke the blue gingham and ruby slippers of the younger Dorothy.

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