Monthly Archives: February 2016

Oz in the News 2.28.16


Wizards of winging it  Journey to Oz isn’t myopically focused on the foundational Wizard narrative. Over and over, the players insert little vignettes about Baum, newspaper reactions to his books, personal anecdotes and tidbits on his times. It’s a little like an annotated edition. We also get a sense of the breadth of Baum’s Oz series, which Parks deftly keeps unobtrusive. Our only lengthy digression into the greater Oz opus comes when the players point out to us that the adventures invariably begin with a dramatic act-of-God cataclysm. The cyclone of The Wizard gave way to an earthquake to trigger one of the many Oz sequels, then an avalanche, and – weirdest of all – a “hurricane drizzle.” When we got down to business, the upstage library shelves parted to simulate the prairie and subsequently, our arrivals in Muchkinland and the Emerald City. The bookshelves lining the wings never disappeared, forming the backdrop for the first encounter with the Scarecrow and the witness box for the trial. The Wicked Witch of the West actually entered through a bookcase, framed in appropriately spooky light and smoke, and a few paper-cut props – a beard, a lion’s mane, and Toto – fancifully originated from a large book spread out on a lectern.

Oz in the News 2.25.16

56cc993cb9665.imageCommunity Concerts celebrate Wonderful Wizard of Song  “He wasn’t as well-known as some of us, but he was a better songwriter than most of us, and he will be missed by all of us,” said composer Irving Berlin, in tribute to Harold Arlen, whose best-known song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is beloved by children and adults worldwide. Harold Arlen’s son, Sam Arlen, is a consultant for the production. He is the president of the Harold Arlen Foundation. Arlen not only provides firsthand stories and insight into the writing of this production, but also has provided personal mementos, family photographs and Harold’s own home movies of the making of “The Wizard of Oz.” The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Life and Songs of Harold Arlen by Matt Davenport Productions at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, in the Harral Auditorium on Wayland Baptist University campus.

New list names the 100 best movie quotes of all time  

57. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” (“The Wizard of Oz”) Chittenango native L. Frank Baum wrote the “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” books that the 1939 classic is based on.

53. “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” (“The Wizard of Oz”)

9. “There’s no place like home.” (“The Wizard of Oz”) This line is taken right out of Chittenango native L. Frank Baum’s book.

4. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” (“The Wizard of Oz”)

See the complete list at The Hollywood Reporter.

Oz in the News 2.23.16


Born Feb. 23: Victor Fleming  American film director Victor Fleming was born Feb. 23, 1889, in Pasadena, Calif. Fleming was one of five directors involved in The Wizard of Oz, but guided the vast majority of the film sequences. He then took over direction of Gone With the Wind after George Cukor was taken off the project three weeks after filming commenced. The Classic Films commemorative set of 1990 featured The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Windas two of the four film subjects on the 25¢ stamps.

New Nickelodeon TV Movie “Emerald City Music Hall” To Be “Latina ‘Wizard of Oz'”  In a exclusive interview with, acclaimed writer and director Gordon Greenberg has revealed that Emerald City Music Hall (formally titled “Emerald City Records“), the brand-new original musical television movie he is currently co-writing with Michael Weiner for Nickelodeon, will be a “Latina Wizard of Oz“! You can read Gordon’s exclusive interview with Playbill here on! Nickelodeon is expected to announce more information about Emerald City Music Hall atNickelodeon Upfront 2016 on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 In New York City.

Oz in the News 2.22.16

fesgdfHow The Woodsman’s Latest Treatment of Oz Has Us Re-thinking Everything About the Tinman  “We’re used to this image of the Tinman being a bulky, boxy thing from the movie,” explains Ortiz. “In most interpretations, it’s almost always an actor in a suit. But the way he’s described in the novel, there’s a sense that you can see daylight through his joints. The only thing holding him together is his own will power. There’s the idea that he’s quite spindly — that’s in most of the early illustrations of him. It was important for me that he be fragile in appearance. His earlier form is a very sensitive young man who is in the midst of trying to figure out what’s best for the person he loves,” he continues. “It was important that he had a fragility that could also be reflected in this other version of him.”

Review: In ‘The Woodsman,’ a Love Lost in Oz Under a Witch’s Spell  The moment you step through the door, enchantment envelops you. Flocks of Mason jars hang suspended, glowing with amber light. Bare branches sprout from walls in the orchestra or reach scraggy arms across the ceiling, almost into the balcony. Thunder rumbles under birdsong. This magical environment is the world of James Ortiz’s “The Woodsman,” which uses puppets and actors, chorus and a lone violin (Composed by Edward W. Hardy) to reimagine the corner of L. Frank Baum’s Oz where the Tin Man came to be. This is what happened before he rusted, before that perky girl from Kansas fell from the sky.

Play Explores Tin Man’s Backstory  The most unique aspect of this production is that Ortiz’s opening narration is one of the last spoken words the audience hears. Ortiz and Karpen employ wordless storytelling, puppetry and stylized physical acting to tell Nick Chopper’s story. The Wicked Witch, a beast in the forest and ultimately the Tin Man are portrayed through life-sized puppets, operated and voiced by actors.


Oz in the News 2.18.16

ozLocal author Sylvia Patience inspires Live Oak class  Her self-published book “Toto’s Tale and the True Chronicle of Oz” is a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s familiar tale, from the dog Toto’s point of view. Mariana Muñoz, 9, said she felt emotional when Patience read about Dorothy adopting the runaway Toto. In this version, Dorothy, an orphan, rides a train from New York to find work in the Midwest. She meets Toto at a Kansas train station and falls in love. Mariana said she had never met an author before. “It makes me want to write a story,” she said. Patience, 74, and a Live Oak resident, said the story loosely follows Baum’s version, but incorporates more smells and sounds because it’s told through a dog’s eyes. “If dogs can’t see green, what did the Emerald City look like?” asked Lunden Blossom, 9. Patience said for Toto, the Emerald City was gray, but he heard others talking about the colors they saw.

Oz in the News 2.17.16

wicked-movie-gets-a-2016-release-date-but-can-it-live-up-to-the-musical-wicked-art-by-j-688117Wicked Movie Gets A 2016 Release Date, But Can It Live Up To The Musical?  The Wicked movie announcement came on the heels of Into The Woods’ release, as producer Marc Platt revealed that yes, we will be seeing Wicked on the big screen uh… at some point. “2016 is the goal, but I don’t know whether we’ll make that goal or not. We will make the movie, but like I said, the bar is really high. We’re going to scrutinise our work on the screenplay and our prep on the movie, and when we feel like it’s ready, okay. We’re not going to shoot a release date is what I’m saying. It’s in the works, it’s not in a rush. It took 27 years to make Into the Woods into a film from its original stage production, and 30 years with Les Mis. Some things take time for a reason.”

Oz in the News: Special Edition

wizard_of_oz_valentine_tee-r991c8123bb5e4d7f801451b1ca381a56_jgg2n_1024Today marks the comeback (and 14th anniversary) of an Oz project that was thought to be lost forever. Back in 2002, I and a friend that I had known since high school (Dave) decided to create an online database of every L. Frank Baum and Wizard of Oz associated publications. It took us well over a year to program the software and enter all of the relevant information for each book. The database proved to be quite helpful to book lovers and even was the key to meeting one of my closest friends in the Oz world, Jane Albright.

However, in 2012 after not hearing from Dave for a few months, I was shocked to learn that he had suddenly died at the age of 48 from heart failure. As if this was not a big enough blow, I also found out that all of computer servers that he had stored the entire Oz database on had been claimed by his parents and they in turn had discarded them. Thus, no updates could ever be made and the site itself ended up disappearing altogether.

The story has an amazing ending however. This past November someone who knew Dave through work contacted me and said that he had one of Dave’s hard drives. I asked him to see if there was anything on it of relevance. As it turns out, it had about 25% of the original Oz database still on it. I felt that was enough, that I could begin to recreate it. This “man behind the curtain” also offered to update the software and make necessary changes to improve the overall flexibility and look of the website. So, I have spent close to 100 hours since Thanksgiving recreating five years of lost information, adding another six years of new information and adding over 1000 images of book covers. As of this weekend, it is ready to debut.


Blair Frodelius – Editor of The Daily Ozmapolitan

Oz in the News 2.13.16


Tapping Through Oz  At a Yale Taps show, sight and sound combine to create a lighthearted display. Against an ethereal, multicolored background, the tappers play with silhouette and let their feet loose. Their 21st annual show, “The Tappers of Oz,” consists of a mix of dance vignettes and an interspersed storyline based around the quintessential tale of misfits following the yellow brick road. Upon encountering the Wizard-turned-DJ Action, the dancers engaged with the audience by asking them to identify songs they tapped out with their feet. Those who guessed correctly received a candy treat. With each correct guess, Dorothy and her crew got one tap closer to getting home to Toad’s. The finale hit the audience full force with sounds and visuals; the soundtrack consisted of a mashup of songs from “The Wiz,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Wicked.” The entire company, separated into different groups by costume, came onstage in a whirlwind of cloth and tapping feet. Their smiles, especially those of the beginners, lit up the room.

BONUS: More Than Brains – University of Phoenix HD Commercial

Oz in the News 2.9.16

the-woodsmanOff Broadway Review: Oz Backstory ‘The Woodsman’  Although most of the show is in wordless puppet-speak, a narrator (Ortiz, who owns this show) addresses the audience long enough to put the story in perspective. The wicked witch who rules over the eastern provinces of Oz, he informs us, has made a sad and sorry place of her kingdom. The woods are inhabited by monsters, the witch’s spies are everywhere, and people are afraid to speak their thoughts out loud. Words have literally become dangerous in the kingdom, so everyone stops talking and now communicate in non-verbal grunts, groans, squeaks, squeals and whistles. They laugh, they cry, they clap their hands, and make all kinds of weird noises — but they truly do not speak. The only other sound is the expressive but rather hectic violin playing of musician Naomi Florin. The music is not unpleasant, just relentless.

“The Woodsman,” Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Tin Man, Returns to New York  We get to know Nick’s parents, a humble woodsman and his wife. Early scenes depict “Pa,” with exaggerated animation, teaching his coltish son to chop wood. Meanwhile, even further to the east, a barefoot slave is imprisoned by the wicked witch. The beautiful Nimmee dreams of and eventually manages escape from her captor. The fated young adults meet, but the witch thwarts their union by somehow possessing Nick’s trusted ax. In a sequence of disturbing scenes, the hatchet turns against its owner. Each time, a gaggle of “Tinkers” fastens artificial limbs onto the wounded boy, until eventually he’s made entirely of metal. Nimmee is still capable of loving Nick, but can Nick do the same, now that he’s lost his heart?

Backstage Life With James Ortiz of ‘The Woodsman’  “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” has continued to provide endless fascination since L. Frank Baum first published it in 1900. Off-Broadway’s “The Woodsman” tells the story of how the Tin Man lost his heart long before he ever met Dorothy. Creator, designer, and puppeteer James Ortiz takes us behind the scenes of this enchanting show.

BONUS: Michael Bay’s “Wizard of Oz”

Oz in the News 2.7.16

Hologram Musical ‘School OZ’ One Day One Chance Music Video