Oz in the News 12.30.14

Chittenango 9_OTISChittenango casino tarnishes the name of L. Frank Baum  The name of a new business coming to Chittenango tarnishes the image of L. Frank Baum. I’m betting it would be voted down by a wide majority of people in the immediate area. It may provide 250 jobs but it is not the kind of people with whom I would want to socialize. It’s job security for the police to tend to people who don’t need to get further in debt financially and then ruin their health with liquor and cigarettes, continue crashing their vehicles and taxing an already overburdened intersection in Fayetteville. I may need more gas just to get out of my neighborhood but it is a sure bet I won’t be buying it from Native-owned stations. I’m betting that if Walt Disney were alive, he could make more money in the same space with an Oz-based theme park.

There’s no place like Oz home, but first it needs a lot of work  It’s been a long time coming for Kathleen DiScenna to get the “magic key to the magic house of Oz.” It’s really just a screwdriver “until we get our grants and re-do the doors and locks,” she explained. The large Neal House, at 678 West Onondaga Street in Syracuse, was built in 1871. But it’s fallen into disrepair, with broken windows, peeling paint and crumbling fireplaces. No Wicked Witch lived here, but the house on the West Side of Syracuse holds a lot of importance to fans of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its author. DiScenna leads the Lyman Frank Baum Foundation, dedicated to the Wizard of Oz author. They’ve been trying to save this house since shortly after it was sold in 1999 and became vacant. The Greater Syracuse Land Band seized the property for back taxes. That allowed the Baum foundation to purchase the house for a dollar this summer. It was in this house – and one room in particular – that another major milestone in Baum’s life took place. He met his wife, Maud Gage. “And is this is the whole purpose and whole reason why we’re here,” she on a recent tour. “Because, according to Frank’s niece, if her aunt and uncle hadn’t met here in this house, there’d be no Oz to talk about.”

Simon Gallaher to Join WICKED in Perth & Brisbane Leading Australian theatre producer John Frost today announced that the role of the Wizard for the Brisbane and Perth seasons of the Broadway musical will be played by much loved musical theatre star Simon Gallaher. Since he first trod the musical theatre stage in 1984 in The Pirates of Penzance, Simon Gallaher has starred in numerous productions including Hello Dolly, The Student Prince, My Fair Lady, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, The Merry Widow, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and most recently Hairspray and Spamalot in Brisbane. As well as being a leading star of musical theatre, Simon is an award winning television star, concert performer, musician, pianist, songwriter and successful theatrical producer.

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