Monthly Archives: May 2015

Oz in the News 5.31.15

1544105Review: “SPELLED” by Betsy Schow  Princess Dorthea of Emerald is downright spoiled in the novel “Spelled,” but it’s hard not to act spoiled when your closet is full of Glenda Original ballgowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. On top of that, Dorthea is restless. One woman of the Emerald royal line has been cursed to become evil and destroy the kingdom by fire, and no one is sure which Emerald princess it will be.  Utah author Betsy Schow presents a fun and witty retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” to readers just in time for summer with its June 2 release. “Spelled” is full of clever plays on words and fun reinterpretations of the original classic. While the story is light and comedic, Schow manages to weave a deeper plot and satisfying character growth into the pages.

Exclusive: Get a sneak peek inside the new Yellow Brick Road Casino  A yellow brick road now leads to the casino, and inside, the yellow brick-like tile continues the Oz theme. Poppy-splashed carpeting continues the theme throughout the casino. In the middle of the floor is a 16-foot high steel-and-brass cyclone, or simulated tornado. Guests will be able to go inside, pull a cord and money and prizes will spin around for them to try to catch, officials said. The Oz-themed restaurants include: Dorothy’s Farmhouse, a counter-service restaurant;   Wicked Good Pizza, a sit-down and take-out pizza place; Heart and Courage Saloon; Winged Monkey, a corner bar with video poker stations built into the counter. Opening day will feature costumed entertainers, and the opportunity for guests to win thousands of dollars in the Cyclone of Cash and the “There’s No Place Like Home” giveaway.

Oz-Stravaganza! 2015 Line’s Up Events Friday Evening : THE SCARECROW OF OZ Centennial Celebration! L. Frank Baum’s ninth Oz Book was published in 1915 and is now one hundred years old. Enjoy that most beloved character in a newly-assembled mélange of film and television clips from 1910 to 1978! Hear memories of her uncle Ray Bolger – MGM’s famous Wizard of Oz movie Scarecrow – from niece CHRISTIANNA RICKARD (author ofRemembering Oz: My Journey With the Scarecrow). Travel a Yellow Brick Road of memories with Munchkin-by-Marriage MYRNA SWENSEN, whose husband CLARENCE played a diminutive soldier in the film.

One Fellow’s WICKED Road to Oz! On the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Wicked – and the launch of his best-selling original Oz fiction series –premier author GREGORY MAGUIRE offers an illustrated tour of his personal journey to acclaim as one of the preeminent writers of our time. Learn about all the Ozziness that happened along the way to Wicked on the printed page and Broadway stage!

Selected Short Subject: THE SOUND OF OZ! NBC-TV affiliate film critic/historian and nationally-syndicated radio reviewer and personality RYAN JAY presents a sneak peek at plans for THE SOUND OF OZ documentary, which he’ll direct. Produced by Aaron Harburg — great-grandson of E. Y. “Yip” Harburg who wrote the lyrics to all the songs in THE WIZARD OF OZ — THE SOUND OF OZ will tell the fascinating saga of the Harburg/Harold Arlen collaboration that gave us “Over the Rainbow,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” Ding-Dong! the Witch is Dead” and so many others.

Saturday Evening: Opening Remarks from ROGER and CHARLENE BAUM The great-grandson of L. Frank Baum and his wife greet you and discuss his latest books, as he continues the tradition of his renowned ancestor.

RETURN TO RETURN TO OZ with EMMA (PRINCESS OZMA) RIDLEY! What a coup! On the thirtieth anniversary of Disney’s 1985 film, Return to Oz, OZ-STRAVAGANZA! and special guest RYAN JAY team up to present EMMA RIDLEY, one of the stars of that motion picture! This marks her first-ever appearance at an Oz event; don’t miss her account of the making of that Ozzy Cult Classic! And revel in RYAN’S behind-the-scenes back-story and visual tour of the creative peaks of that production!

How Wonderful THE WIZ – And Its Lion Supreme! In this fortieth anniversary year of Broadway’s rip-roarin’-and-rockin’ stage musical, THE WIZ, theater legend KEN PAGE reviews his stint as The Cowardly Lion – both in that show and in other OZ theatrical spectaculars! MR. PAGE is OZ-STRAVAGANZA! Grand Marshall for 2015 and will also recount tales of his participation as “Oogie Boogie” in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, as “Max” in DREAMGIRLS, and in such Broadway starring roles as “Old Deuteronomy” in CATS and in the original cast of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’. Featuring exclusive video of THE WIZ cast members as they performed earlier in 2015 in NYC for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS!)

Oz in the News 5.27.15

4a0e63815a9d5b238527d4fee564db07_originalAmerican Bibliodeck, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Edition  American Bibliodeck, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Edition brings L. Frank Baum’s classic tale of a young girl, road trips, weird friends, scary monsters, and political assassination into your game room. We love playing card games. Our parents love playing card games. Our comic-book-drawing friends love playing card games. It’s time we did something about it. With our new Bibliodeck series, we want to take the same passion and artistry that fueled the ambitious Shadow of Oz Tarot we created last year, and use them to fire something simpler, more affordable, more accessible, and arguably easier to hold. In this edition, your favorite characters from the book appear in each suit: Dorothy and her companions, The Wizard and his allies, and, of course, the Wicked Witch. Full color, with Jokers, this will be a beautiful deck to own, share, and play some really wicked cribbage.

Are Judy Garland’s Stolen Ruby Slippers Shimmering in Mine Pit? Witness search at 40th ‘Wizard of Oz’ Festival June 10-13  Are Judy Garland’s ruby slippers in nearby mine pit following a Museum heist? Witness an underwater search for the iconic red shoes and dozens of events planned for the 40th Annual “Wizard of Oz” Festival June 10-13 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (not Michigan)!  Scuba divers for the Judy Garland Museum will take a plunge into the Tioga Mine Pit June 11, and June 12 at 10 a.m., and 1 p.m. to explore decade-old rumors a pair of authentic ruby slippers – worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy – were discarded there after a brazen 2005 heist. The Itasca County Sheriff’s Dive Team will go to great depths in its search for the iconic red shoes following a famous theft that remains unsolved. “These rumors have been floating around since it happened,” says Jonny Miner, one of the founders of the popular museum which includes Judy Garland’s childhood home, “and we’re finally putting them to the ultimate test.”

8 Things You May Not Know About “The Wizard of Oz”  L. Frank Baum was 44 when “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was published and by then he’d tried his hand at a variety of jobs. As a young man in upstate New York, he bred prize-winning chickens, published a trade journal about poultry and was as an actor and playwright. One of his plays, “The Maid of Arran,” toured a number of U.S. cities in the early 1880s, with Baum in a leading role. However, following some shady dealings by his bookkeeper, plus a fire that destroyed a theater owned by Baum, he tabled his show-business dreams and went to work as a salesman for a company that made lubricating oil. By the early 1890s, he’d moved to Chicago and was employed as a traveling salesman for a glassware firm. While away from home, he invented stories to tell his four sons, and when his mother-in-law heard some of these tales she encouraged him to try to publish them. The result was Baum’s first children’s book, “Mother Goose in Prose,” which failed to sell well when released in 1897. Meanwhile, Baum had grown tired of life as a traveling salesman and founded a well-received trade magazine about window trimming (he got the idea after observing poorly organized store-window displays during his time on the road). In 1899, he published his second work for children, “Father Goose, His Book.” An unexpected best-seller, it got his literary career rolling and helped generate interest in “Oz,” which he was already working on.

Oz in the News 5.23.15

Must Watch! Diana DeGarmo Gets Swept Up By a Tornado in Dreamlike (and Chilling) Wizard of Oz Preview (Video)  Diana DeGarmo, who recently concluded her run as the Narrator in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, will star as Dorothy in Studio Tenn Theatre Company’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Watch the production’s first preview, which conjures the classic 1939 film. Performances will take place June 13-14 at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center and feature a full symphony orchestra. DeGarmo, who rose to fame as the runner-up on “American Idol” in 2004 (check out her audition), has been seen on Broadway in Hairspray and Hair.

Merry Old “Sand” of Oz Wows in Arlington  You may never look at sand the same way again after you visit Arlington’s newest attraction. Step into the giant tent just north of Globe Life Park and you”ll instantly find yourself in the in the “merry old land of Oz” – no Kansas twister needed to take you there. Fantasy in Sand brings 16 iconic scenes from the The Wizard of Oz to life. Some of the scupltures are more than 20 feet tall. “It’s just unbelievable,” said Thomas Koet, one of the professional sand sculptors who worked on the project. “We’ve been working more than 70 hours a week for four weeks straight just to get it done.”  Fantasy in Sand is located just off of Ballpark Way, next to the Arlington Sheraton. Tickets are $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for kids. The exhibit will stay in Arlington through Aug. 23.


Oz in the News 5.22.15

tn-2428847-tn-dpt-et-0522-oz-scr-01-jpg-20150521SCR’s Oz enters a whole new realm  “OZ 2.5,” set to open on the Julianne Argyros stage, features a brighter, bolder and customized backdrop for the audience. The children’s classic written by L. Frank Baum 115 years ago, is set in a video game world. Dee, whose screen name is Dorothy14, joins her friends Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man through each level on her way to defeat the Witch of the Western Realm. She wins the game but wants to return to her homeland of prairie, wild flowers and tall grass.  Unlike the original Dorothy, Trieschmann’s Dee is a 21st century girl, who finds life in rural Kansas dull and unexciting. Since she can’t find adventure on the farm, she turns to her favorite video game, OZ 2.0, much to her Aunt Em’s dismay. The tornado hits and rather than seeking shelter in the basement, Dee stays outside to retrieve her tablet. The tornado hits her and she wakes up finding herself inside the computer game.

Oz in the News 5.20.15

stephanie-mills-joins-the-wiz-live-on-nbc_1NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” Holding Open Casting Call for Dorothy  NBC is looking for a newcomer to ease on down the yellow brick road in their upcoming production of Charlie Smalls’ “The Wiz,” which will air live on Dec. 3. The open casting call will be presented by casting agency Telsey & Company at 311 W. 43rd St., 10th floor on June 9, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Sign in begins at 9 a.m. The role of Dorothy is being described as: “Female, African American, must be 18 years-of-age or older. Must have an extraordinary voice that can still tell a story, and maturity with a youthful energy.” Auditioners should come with a headshot and resume with full contact information. They should also be prepared to sing a few a cappella bars of “Home,” “Ease on Down the Road” or “Be a Lion” — all of which appear in “The Wiz.” “The Wiz Live!”, which retells L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all-black cast set in a fantasy version of New York City, will follow in the footsteps of 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and last year’s “Peter Pan Live!” Like those two productions, “The Wiz Live!” will be produced by Craig Zaden and Neil Meron. But unlike previous years, NBC will transfer its revival of “The Wiz” on Broadway for the 2016-17 season.


Oz in the News 5.19.15

17849642-mmmainNo place like home: Sale of historic Baum house in Syracuse pits one ‘Wizard of Oz’ group against another  The Greater Syracuse Land Bank has picked one Oz-related group over another to redevelop a former home related to “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” creator L. Frank Baum, at 678 W. Onondaga St. in Syracuse. The house, built in 1867, was the home of Baum’s sister Harriet Baum Neal and her husband William Neal. Frank met his future wife Maud there.  On the agency’s agenda Monday were proposals from two competing Baum foundations. They could be seen as Syracuse versus Chittenango, where Baum was born.  The Lyman Frank Baum Foundation offered $1,000.  The second group – the L. Frank Baum and All Things Oz Historical Foundation offered to pay $1.  Committee member Marc Baum, who is no relation to L. Frank Baum is quoted as saying, “This house is in deplorable condition. It has been vacant for many years, and it came back on the market through the Syracuse Land Bank in late February. In March, members of our board toured the house with the Syracuse Land Bank representatives, and we decided that this would be the last chance to save it.” The losing Oz foundation has taken its arguments to social media with threats to sue the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

Oz in the News 5.16.15

wicked-flying-monkeys-3dWicked Flying Monkeys’ Rolls Out Sales  Animated feature “Wicked Flying Monkeys 3D” has clinched major territory sales in the U.K. (eOne), Germany, Austria, Switzerland (Universum), Australia/New Zealand (Rialto) and Mexico (Televisa-Videocine).  “Wicked Flying Monkeys”(aka “Save Oz!”) is Anima’s first CGI movie as a lead producer, its biggest production to date, the first to be synched in English and the largest animated feature ever to come out of Mexico. It bowed in third place at the Mexican box office on April 10. With character design and story by Jorge Gutierrez (“The Book of Life”), “Wicked Flying Monkeys” draws on some characters and locations from L. Frank Baum’s celebrated “Oz,” book series. But “Flying Monkeys” has an entirely original story and original main characters.

Oz in the News 5.13.15

oz4Jacqueline E. Lawton: adapting Wizard of Oz and what’s next  “I credit my mother’s love of MGM musicals for becoming involved in theatre. She introduced me to Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, and all of those amazing actors and actresses. When I first saw The Wizard of Oz, I was amazed. I saw myself in Dorothy and wondered how they knew what was in my heart. How did they know that I was so loved, but so terribly lonely and that I longed for adventure? I watched it every time it came on television and never got tired of it. Now, when I saw The Wiz, I was terrified of it. The subway scenes and the costumes — it all gave me nightmares and made me so sad. I never watched it again, but I do love the song “Everyone Rejoice” and I loved all the high kicking! I plan to watch it in December when NBC presents it for television, so we’ll see. I’ve never seen Wicked or any other versions, so, I only know the book and the movie.”

Oz in the News 5.12.15

1(1)Original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, to Star as Aunt Em in NBC’s THE WIZ LIVE!  Craig Zadan has revealed the news that Stephanie Mills, the original Dorothy in the Broadway production of THE WIZ, will star as ‘Aunt Em’ in NBC’s live broadcast of THE WIZ LIVE. NBC also revealed at today’s 2015 Upfront that the role of Dorothy in the upcoming live television event will definitely be a newcomer. The new television broadcast will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division, which will also help adapt the show for the Broadway stage.

3175845_orig‘Wizard of Oz’ theme to take over Magical Forest for event  Events director Steve Koontz hustles down the train tracks on a mission: transform one of Las Vegas’ most popular winter attractions into a springtime Oz complete with flying monkeys, a haunted forest and the Emerald City in time to celebrate Opportunity Village’s 60th anniversary May 15. As visitors enter the forest trail, they’ll start off surrounded by black-and-white decorations. After a twister scene, just as in the classic film, everything will be in color. From 5:30 to 10 p.m. May 15 and 16 and 5:30 to 9 p.m. May 17, the forest is scheduled to host a blowout birthday bash weekend with live entertainment, a vendor fair and all the rides and attractions the site is known for — with a Wizard of Oz twist. Dubbed The Wizard of OV at the Magical Forest, the festivities also are set to include a hot air balloon May 16, children’s activities, baker-prepared, Oz-themed cakes on display, root beer floats and for adults a beer garden. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Oz in the News 5.11.15

t0511art-underground_feat6_2Young artist recreates Oz and dream world in new show  Contemporary artist Yayie Garcia investigates the Oz mythos in a new exhibition called “OZ: Behind The Seen,” which will open on May 16, 6 p.m. at Art Underground in Mandaluyong. Yayie Garcia is a young graduate of the Fine Arts program of Far Eastern University. Her first solo show takes on Dorothy as her avatar. “As I grow older, I still dream of my own life’s journey, only to find out it is very much comparable to the ‘Wizard of Oz,’” she said. “This dream symbolizes how we perceive life in its amazing but cruel forms,” said Garcia. “The path made out of long hair may symbolize life or our attitude toward every situation. Like the human hair, we can change the style of how we live, cut it short, color it differently, let it grow longer and longer, tie it up tightly or just let it be blown by the wind. You decide, after all, it is your life isn’t it? The Tin Man, The Lion and The Scarecrow symbolizes the different people along the journey called life. They may be very different from us yet we consider them getting close to our hearts. These people are important and essential people that change our lives one way or another whether we realize it or not.” Exhibit will run until May 26.