Monthly Archives: April 2016

Oz in the News 4.30.16

16037-0The Woodsman, Inspired by L. Frank Baum, Sets Off-Broadway Closing Date  The Woodsman, a retelling of the origins of Oz’s Tin Woodsman, will end its latest off-Broadway engagement on May 29. Directed by James Ortiz and Claire Karpen, the production began performances on January 27 and officially opened on February 7 at New World Stages—Stage 5. Reprising their roles from previous 59E59 productions are Benjamin Bass, Devin Dunne Cannon, Will Gallacher, Alex J. Gould, Amanda A. Lederer, Aaron McDaniel, Lauren Nordvig, Oritz, Eliza Simpson, Meghan St. Thomas and Sophia Zukoski. Penned by Ortiz with music composed by Edward W. Hardy and lyrics by Jen Loring, the production is based on the beloved writings of L. Frank Baum. The Woodsman tells the origin story of the Tin Woodsman, the woman he loved, and the witch that would stop at nothing to keep them apart. The Land of Oz is brought to life by Strangemen & Co. with puppetry and original music.

US academic tells of Wizard of Oz legacy  A renowned psychologist and great-granddaughter of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L Frank Baum has told of her “delightful” visit to Carrickfergus. San Diego native Dr Gita Morena led a unique two-day workshop along with an evening seminar on the ‘Wisdom of Oz’ in Belfast over the weekend. The legacy of Oz was prevalent throughout Gita’s childhood. “I was always aware of it,” she said. “My mother used to read the stories to me when I was little and as I was called Dorothy then, I thought they were about me.” The Oz tales originally began as bedtime stories Gita’s great grandfather would tells his four sons, growing to a saga that all the neighbourhood children were enthralled by. “Everyone loves the story; it’s so universal and it’s very positive, because she does actually get back home again,” she added. In later years, Gita was encouraged by her colleagues to explore some of the real-life lessons implicit in the Oz stories, eventually writing her dissertation on the topic. Her book, The Wisdom of Oz, was released in 2000.

Oz in the News 4.28.16

1461815350750Royal NZ Ballet puts a twister on The Wizard of Oz  Opening at Wellington’s St James Theatre next week, and touring nine centres from Auckland to Invercargill, The Ryman Healthcare season of The Wizard of Oz is a two act ballet with design by Gianluca Falaschi and jazz age, cinematic music by Francis Poulenc. Inspired by L Frank Baum’s much loved story of friendship, love, and growing up, all the favourite characters feature, with a RNZB twist. For a young Ventriglia, The Wizard of Oz meant more than just a bedtime story.  It was told to him as a way of understanding a difficult time in his childhood, when he was admitted to a children’s hospital for six months with a skin condition, at the tender age of five. Born into a traditional, Catholic family on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Ventriglia stayed at the hospital with his moth, away from his hometown.

“Every afternoon, performers would come to entertain the kids and it was my first experience with the art form of ballet and music, because I didn’t have any contact with artists back home, I was fascinated.” Every day, he would follow his mother to another ward where she would visit the parents of a little girl in isolation. “I remember looking at her on the other side of the glass, and it was probably was the first time I fell in love in my life, because I would wait all day for this journey to go into another building to see this little girl.” One morning, the little girl was no longer there. “Obviously, I now know she died, but in the moment I asked where she was, and because I was so young they didn’t tell me in that moment she died, they told me she started a journey to Oz. “So my mum and the doctors, and her parents told me about The Wizard of Oz and this story became incredible for me.”

Special ‘Oz’ events coming to Figge  With “The Wonderful World of Oz” exhibit opening June 12, many visitors will be off to see the wizard this summer at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum. Drawn from the largest collection of Oz memorabilia in the world — more than 100,000 items, owned by Willard Carroll and Tom Wilhite — the 110 pieces coming to the Figge include the finest known copy of the first edition of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 book; original sketches, costumes and props from the 1939 movie; and Oz spinoffs such as puppets, toys and posters from related movies. Highlights include the hourglass the Wicked Witch used to show Dorothy how much time she had left, an original Munchkin costume for one of the Lollipop Guild trio, and Judy Garland’s screen-test dress.

Related special events will include: — Saturday, June 11: A gala Oz-themed fundraiser at the Figge, attended by Mr. Carroll and Mr. Wilhite. Guests will tour the exhibit and are encouraged to come in costume. The $125-per-person admission will include an open bar, dinner and live auction, with proceeds going to the museum’s education outreach.

— Sunday, June 12: Mr. Carroll, an Emmy-winning producer, will give a talk exploring Oz’s “indelible impact on every aspect of popular culture,” according to the Figge.

— Thursday, July 21: Paula Amad, cinematic-arts chair at the University of Iowa, will talk about the influence “The Wizard of Oz” has had on filmmaking.

— Thursday, Aug. 11: John Fricke — noted Oz and Judy Garland historian, Emmy-winning producer, and author of a book on the collection — will discuss facts, fictions and secrets behind the making of the MGM film.

— Saturday, Aug. 13: Mr. Fricke will host screenings of the movie at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Adler Theatre. They will be rare 35-mm presentations, using one of very few prints made in 1998 by Warner Bros. and Technicolor. “This print is completely beautiful,” and much different from typical versions, Mr. Schiffer said.

Oz in the News 4.25.16

24-Pratt.w529.h352Chris Pratt and Anna Faris Win Parenting With Classic MGM Movies  Chris Pratt and Anna Faris seem to have parenting figured out. Their son, Jack, also known as the world’s craftiest and most polite child ever, is probably going to be the only kid in his preschool class who can reference vintage films. Anna and Chris flipped on The Wizard of Oz for their little dude.  Chris captioned his photo, “The best part of parenthood is experiencing old things as new. Currently off to see the wizard, the wonderful #WizardOfOz.” This is better than anything on Disney Channel these days. Trust me, Jack.

Liverpool’s LGBT Quarter to undergo Wizard of Oz makeover Commencing today (Monday 25 April), Eberle Street will undergo a major transformation removing the tired asphalt construction  with a unique paving and lighting scheme paying homage to the Yellow Brick Road and the mythical Land of Oz via it’s connection with Garlands Nightclub and Judy Garland. The works jointly funded by Liverpool BID Company and Liverpool City Council, represent the biggest investment in the City’s ‘Stanley Street Quarter’ for a decade and aim to be complete for the City’s annual Pride celebrations in late July. The innovative scheme celebrates Liverpool’s LGBT community and heritage, and is inspired by the diverse range of entertainment venues in the area such as the Artist Club, Garlands, Passion and Gbar.

Oz in the News 4.23.16

Ruby_slippers_0Screentime: The Wizard of Oz  Does the Kansas we see in The Wizard of Oz have anything to do with the Kansas on this side of the rainbow? From tornadoes to costumes to politics, we explore the different interpretations of this classic American film. Guests:

Oz in the News 4.20.16


Village transforms into the land of Oz for gala  The mixed weather conditions didn’t dampen the spirits of crowds who followed the yellow brick road to the Buxworth Gala. The Gala Café selling hot drinks and homemade cakes was very popular and the big hit of the event were the Wizard of Oz children’s’ tea parties. On the Saturday evening a children’s’ disco was held at Buxworth Memorial Club with the all the main Wizard of Oz characters making an appearance. Thanks was given to all those who gave up their time to help.

ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ Features Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy in Lesbian Kiss Picking up in the wake of Ruby and Mulan (Jamie Chung) searching out the former’s wolf pack, the duo come across Dorothy in Oz, where they then team up to take down the recently returned Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader). Unfortunately, Zelena places Dorothy in a sleeping curse, which leads Ruby to the Underworld in a bid to save her. As it has several times before on the show, the spell is broken by true love’s kiss — in this case, it’s Ruby who brings Dorothy back. “True love’s kiss has been a staple of this show since the beginning,” executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis say. “This past Sunday’s episode was just another example of how in a fairy tale, as in life, love is love.” … Though the moment has been highly anticipated all season, the producers have always maintained that the couple’s love story would be no different from what the series has showcased with Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) or Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue); nor would the hour featuring the reveal be a “very special episode,” likely the reason behind the lack of targeted promotion ahead of Sunday’s episode. “Our goal is to make it as we see it in the real world, just as normal and as a part of every day life as it should be,” Horowitz previously told EW.

World premiere of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to be presented by Savannah Ballet Theatre  The story of Dorothy, Toto and all their friends — and enemies — will come to life in the Savannah Ballet Theatre production “The Wizard of Oz.” “This is an original composition or world premiere ballet,” says Abby McCuen, managing director of the Savannah Ballet Theatre. “When I researched it, I didn’t see a lot of companies doing ‘The Wizard of Oz.’” This production will be particularly exciting. “The coolest thing is we will be flying,” McCuen says. “Glinda and some of the other characters will fly. “That is a big step for us. Flying is extra expensive and takes lots of rehearsing. “But I think it is going to pay off,” she says. “The audience is going to love it.”

Oz in the News 4.17.16

originalBrelby Theatre presents ‘Sea Fairies’ Sea Fairies,” by Kirt Shineman is loosely based on L. Frank Baum’s novel of the same name, and short story, Prince Mud-Turtle. The show is set on the coast of southern California when the orphan, Mayre Griffiths, nicknamed Trot, encounters some mischievous classmates. The mean boys play “keep-away” with her newly crafted pearl necklace. She freezes, and cannot defend herself. Her constant companion Cap’n Bill, a retired sailor with a wooden leg, comes to her rescue. After scaring away the boys, Cap’n Bill confronts Trot about a visit he and Trot’s mother received; Trot’s teacher and principle came to the house looking for Trot, who had not been to school in weeks. Why? Trot explains she’s spent most of her days roaming the beach, avoiding the bullies, and swimming in the ocean, diving for pearls, and she even found a large pink pearl. Concerned, Cap’n Bill rows the two of them to where Trot found the infamous pink pearl. Trot and Cap’n Bill are attacked by SeaDevils, sent by the evil magician, Zog. They are forced to row into the forbidden Giant’s Cove. There the mermaids rescue Trot, and the distressed Cap’n Bill, and take them to visit to their land in mermaid form. Trot is enthusiastic, and Bill is too loyal to let her go off without him. Thus begins their adventure with the Sea Fairies as Trot learns about the ocean animals, the beauty of the deep, surmounts her grief over the death of her father, and through it all she finds the strength to take on the local bullies.


Oz in the News 4.14.16

DSCF0582_largeJane Lahr, daughter of Bert Lahr (The Cowardly Lion) to appear at Oztoberfest  During OZtoberFest 2016, Ms. Lahr will make a special appearance at an invitational reception on September 30th and take part in public autograph sessions at The OZ Museum on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, October 1st and 2nd. Best of all, she’ll offer an illustrated lecture presentation about her legendary father on Saturday afternoon at The Columbian Theatre, moderated by….me! (as the weekend’s master of ceremonies). The program will include rare audio recordings of Bert Lahr’s introduction to the first telecast of THE WIZARD OF OZ, in which he was joined by ten-year-old Liza Minnelli. (This took place exactly sixty years ago, on November 3, 1956.) Those who attend will also hear a brief radio interview given by a devoted Judy Garland after Lahr died in 1967. Although the list of special guests for OZtoberFest 2016 is not yet complete, Wamego already has confirmed the attendance of Johnpaul Cafiero, whose family’s amazing Oz collection holds forth at The OZ Museum. Also returning is the nationally syndicated radio commentator and TV motion picture critic, Ryan Jay, who will present his exclusive red-carpet and behind-the-scenes video interviews with cast and creative staff members of last December’s triumphant NBC-TV special, THE WIZ LIVE!

Two charged in Land of Oz break-in  Two teenagers, one male and one female, have been charged in connection with a March 31 break-in at the Land of Oz theme park on Beech Mountain. “Their mothers and fathers were very distraught as to their actions,” Barnett said in a phone interview with The AJT. “They are straight-A students from the Charlotte area. Mom and dad were devastated. The parents said there will be a lot more repercussions after they have their day in court.” The Land of Oz is private property, is not abandoned and is equipped with a security alarms and cameras.


Oz in the News 4.12.16

MC-OZ-at-Nevendon-Manor043Wickford youngsters take part in Wizard of Oz-themed events  Youngsters took part in a Wizard of Oz-themed experience during the Easter holidays last week. The immersive, one-hour show, titled ’Oz – The Search for Toto’ – ran several times per day at Nevendon Manner. As visitors navigated the ’yellow brick road’ around an outdoor trail, they encountered actors playing the Lion, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and other memorable characters, including the Munchkins.

Finding wisdom through The Wizard of Oz  Like the film and subsequent stage musical adaptations, Baum’s fairytale chronicles the adventures of a young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical Land of Oz, after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas home by a cyclone. The book’s themes of virtue, friendship, good and evil, are still relevant, more than a century on, and over the past 40 years the author’s great-granddaughter Dr Gita Morena has travelled the world helping people tackle the complexities of life using her great-grandfather’s enchanting tale. “Finding inner peace and happiness in a world that is filled with so many challenges,” should be our number one goal says the San Diego-based psychologist, author, and certified sandplay therapist, who will be visiting Dungannon and Belfast later this month to help inspire both young people and adults to “follow their own yellow brick road”. This will be the second visit to Ireland by Dr Morena who, having already visited Taiwan this year, will go on to tour Australia, Singapore and South Africa in the autumn. She is delighted that there are now a number of therapists using sandplay therapy in the north of Ireland, helping people access their unconscious to help address trauma and conflict. She will also speak at an evening seminar, Travelling Through Oz, hosted by Queen’s University School of Education in Belfast on April 25. For further information and booking visit

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry to Present THE WIZARD OF OZ  In this classic heart-warming tale, beautifully adapted for marionettes by Martin Stevens and Dan Raynor, children of all ages will watch with bated breath as a Kansas cyclone whisks Dorothy off to Oz, where she befriends the Scarecrow, who wants brains; the Tin Woodman, who wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion, who wants courage. Together they set off on a journey to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz while evading the delightfully silly Wicked Witch of the West. World leaders in puppetry arts for over 80 years, the Stevens Puppets bring this tale to life with artfully hand-carved wooden marionettes and a musical score you are sure to be humming all the way home. Martin Stevens created this version of THE WIZARD OF OZ in 1966. It closely follows both the book and movie versions. In the spring of 2012, THE WIZARD OF OZ went through an extensive renovation, with all-new scenery, newly painted and costumed marionettes, a new digital soundtrack, and all new props.Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by calling 860.486.8580, or online at

Adventure Time makes a bold visual shift for its Wizard Of Oz pastiche  The Wizard Of Oz is a film full of iconic moments, but none are quite as magical as Dorothy’s first steps into the land of Oz, discovering a world of color when before her life was black and white. Adventure Time is already a bright, colorful series, so it offers a different kind of visual shift for its Wizard Of Oz pastiche “Beyond The Grotto,” which sees Finn and Jake traveling into a crudely rendered, dramatically altered version of their usual surroundings. Guest directors/animators Lindsay and Alex Small-Butera (best known for their Baman Piderman Mondo series) handle the majority of the episode, and they do fantastic work reinterpreting the show’s setting and characters in a rougher style that is still extremely bold and imaginative. Just like in The Wizard Of Oz, Finn and Jake encounter new characters inspired by people they know when they pass through the grotto, and a big part of this episode’s appeal is seeing what these characters are turned into. Princess Bubblegum is a pink pond that this world’s versions of Finn and Jake (a rabbit and tadpole, respectively) drink from early on; Marceline is a flower that sings about wanting to escape her plant body and see the sea; Ice King is Princess Purple Patch, the guardian of a field of purple that shares similar qualities withThe Wizard Of Oz’s poppies. The purple patch is where the danger of this setting becomes clear, and Finn and Jake begin to forget their identities and their motivations as they spend time in it.

Oz in the News 4.8.16

e071949675936ac6eb4136a5bfa60124North Carolina’s Abandoned ‘Wizard of Oz’ Theme Park Will Haunt You  Written as a novel by L. Frank Baum in 1900, the Wizard of Oz became an acclaimed Technicolor film in 1939. The success of that film led to the exploration of prequels and sequels desperately seeking the fame and recognition that the orignal musical film garnered. Perhaps the boldest iteration was the recreation of the Land of Oz as a theme park in North Carolina’s Beech Mountains. The park was a tremendous attraction for Wizard of Oz lovers, but it closed just ten years after it opened, after project developers fell into bankruptcy. It has since become a grim artifact where nature is aggressively reclaiming Oz. Photographer Johnny Joo visited the site and photographed the ruins, full of wild roots and thick fog. His eerie portraits capture a magical place that has gradually become the perfect setting for your worst nightmares.

Clarksville hopes to set world record at ‘Day in Oz’ event Aug. 27  Jackson Bishop is counting the hours until Aug. 27. He’s also praying for good weather. Bishop is planning a party that he hopes will attract worldwide attention to the 442-population city of Clarksville, Mo. Bishop, the marketing director for the Clarksville Community Chamber of Commerce, is organizing the second Day in Oz Festival, a family event celebrating the nation’s ongoing affection for the 1939 classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Bishop hastily put together Clarksville’s inaugural Day in Oz Festival last year. He had just five weeks for planning and implementation, but it still drew more than 3,000 people and earned high praise from visitors. Bishop is planning a bigger and better festival for Aug. 27. He also hopes Clarksville can set a world record in the process by having the largest gathering of people dressed as Wizard of Oz characters. He decided to try to make the 2016 festival even grander by bringing in a larger Spirit of Oz troupe and scheduling more attractions, including the world-record attempt, slated for 2 p.m. at the city’s downtown square.
In addition to rehiring the Spirit of Oz troupe, organizers also are bringing back an old-fashioned marionette puppet show with hand-carved Wizard of Oz characters. “Their presentation last year was awesome,” he said.

Oz in the News 4.6.16

IMG_0839Couple tries to break into Dorothy’s house at old Land of Oz  Authorities in Beech Mountain are searching for two people who broke down the door to Dorothy’s farmhouse in the old Land of Oz amusement park. Shawn Freeman, chief of police in the resort town of 320 on the Avery and Watauga county line, said Tuesday that a man and a woman entered the mountaintop park Thursday and broke in the door at the Kansas-style house that serves as a portal to the historic attraction. When a burglar alarm went off, they fled, Freeman said. When officers arrived, they had vanished, but their time in the park was captured on surveillance video. Nothing inside Dorothy’s house – furnished like the one in the classic 1939 “Wizard of Oz” movie – appeared to be disturbed. Vandalism has been a problem at Land of Oz, which closed in 1980 but is still used for festivals and group events. Hundreds of pieces of the park’s signature Yellow Brick Road have been taken by souvenir-hunters. “Contrary to what you read on Facebook, the park is not abandoned,” Freeman said. “It’s private property.” “We didn’t have this problem before social media,” said Page Leidy, whose family has owned the property for decades. He said the intruders were inside the park for about 12 minutes according to security video.

“Wizard of Oz” Author L. Frank Baum’s Great Grandson, Internationally Recognized Children’s Book Author Roger Baum, Appointed to the Advisory Board  “I’m very excited to be working with someone of Roger Baum’s international renown,” stated Inspirational Vision Media’s CEO Steve Previch. “His creative influence on our ‘Legends of Oz’ franchise will be invaluable as we work towards bringing the many ‘Legends of Oz’ Intellectual Properties to market.” This includes the “Legends of Oz — Dorothy Returns” 3D animated feature film along with all associated IPs and assets including the ten book “Oz” series by leading children’s author Roger Baum.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race – Wizard of Oz Themed Episode Preview