Monthly Archives: July 2016

Oz in the News 7.29.16

Judy-Garland-Over-The-Rainbow#ThrowbackThursday: “Over The Rainbow” by Judy Garland  On this day in 1939 Judy Garland made her first commercial recording of the song “Over The Rainbow.” The song would not only become her signature song, but also the standout song for the film it was recorded for The Wizard of Oz. As hard as it may be to believe, Judy Garland’s version of “Over The Rainbow” never appeared on the charts. Despite this lack of initial commercial success, critics began to recognize the song almost immediately. It won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Original Song, and at the turn of the century was named the number one on the “Songs of the Century” list put out by the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Endowment of the Arts, and Scholastic in 2001. It was also named the top song by the American Film Institute on their list of the top 100 songs from the past 100 years of film released in 2004.

Event Alert: The Wizard of Us: Transformational Lessons from Oz Few stories inhabit our individual and collective psyche like The Wizard of Oz. And few teachers can guide us through an exploration of its archetypal lessons and their application to our life as Jean Houston. Take a joy-filled journey into the metaphoric land of Oz where Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, the Scarecrow, the Wicked Witch, and Toto come alive to teach hidden lessons. As you move through this magnificent, mythical world, you access the gifts of each character and learn seven ways to combine your unconscious and conscious minds to uncover your hidden talents, resources, and vision. Through a blend of lecture, interactive exercises, dancing, poetry, and meditation, you discover how to respond to life with innovative action. As you write your own expanded story, you tap into an exciting new sense of meaning and purpose for your life.

Author receives Oz Award  Oz, fantasy and science fiction author Ron Baxley Jr. of Barnwell received a certificate from the International L. Frank Baum and All Things Oz Historical Foundation bestowing him an Honorary Lifetime Membership during the closing ceremony of Oz-Stravaganza 2016 on June 5. Baxley has been invited as an author in Authors and Artists Alley in the foundation’s Oz-Stravaganza Festival, held in the birthplace of original Oz author L. Frank Baum, for six years. He has donated copies of his books to the All Things Oz Museum, promoted the efforts of the festival and board via social media, and donated proceeds from some projects to the museum. A part-time correspondent for The Times and Democrat, he has written many Oz and science fiction books and has co-written an Oz/Wonderland book with James C. Wallace II.


Oz in the News 7.23.16

2796131_web1_160720-MIR-Glinda1Youth Theatre Northwest presents ‘Glinda of Oz’ this month  YTN is excited to adapt Baum’s final book, “Glinda of Oz,” into a magical theatre experience. Adapted by Kate Swenson and directed by Hattie Clare Andres, “Glinda of Oz” performs July 15 through July 31 at the Mercer Island High School Performing Arts Center, 9100 SE 42nd St. “There are three kinds of magic in the Land of Oz. Animals and beasts have their natural magic, Glinda and the Wizard practice sorcery, and Princess Ozma, supreme ruler of Oz, uses her fairy magic to keep the peace. But in a faraway corner of this enchanted land, a new kind of magic has been born. The kind of magic that leads to war,” according to a YTN press release. “It’s up to Princess Ozma and her dear old friend Dorothy to end a deadly feud between the Flatnoggins and the Skeezers.”

Todrick Hall on His Inspired ‘Lemonade’-Meets-‘Wizard of Oz’ Mash-Up  I always wanted to be in some other kind of world. Instead of dealing with real-life situations, I would come home and run away to this world in my backyard where I would literally just have this vivid imagination. And I was always making costumes and stuff. That was my idea of fun when I was a little kid, like all the people who knew me will say that I was always doing arts and crafts and writing musicals and putting on skits. I think I identify with the story so much because I grew up in a really small town where people didn’t understand me, and I felt much like how Dorothy feels in the story. And all I ever wanted to do was get out and go someplace where people who were like me were there and I could make my dreams come true. But also, I’m gay! You know, there’s a reason why they call us “friends of Dorothy.” A lot of gay people love the story, whether it be the rainbow situation, or the fact that the Tin Man’s body is bangin’, but there’s just something about the story that attracts us to it. [Laughs]

Oz in the News 7.19.16’s Emerald City Is Changing Everything You Thought You Knew About The Wizard of Oz  NBC is set to take viewers back to the world of Oz with its new fall series Emerald City, which is a new take on the iconic film, The Wizard of Oz. In the network’s fresh new take, a 20-year-old Dorthy and a K-9 police dog are swept into the mystical land, filled with lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. Wizard of Oz lovers can expect to see familiar characters pop up in unexpected ways as Dorothy navigates her way through the magical world. E! News has your exclusive first look at the character posters for the series, including the Wizard, played by Daredevil‘s Vincent D’Onofrio, Dorothy, and some of those iconic witches (both good and wicked). In addition to the new artwork, Adria Arjona, the new Dorothy herself, will be at Comic-Con to introduce a sneak peek trailer during the Grimm panel on Saturday, July 23, at 2:30 p.m. in Ballroom 20.

Morgan Reynolds of THE WIZARD OF OZ Tour – An Exclusive Look at 8 Months on the Road, Filmed 1 Second Each Day  THE WIZARD OF OZ NORTH AMERICAN TOUR played its final performance on Sunday, July 17 at the Straz Center in Tampa, FL.  During the tour, Morgan Reynolds (Scarecrow) took fans on a backstage journey down the yellow brick road.  Here is the final installment: An incredible look at 8 months on the road, captured in a second each day.

Oz in the News 7.16.16

ct-ct-ptb-nelson-obituary-jpg-20160715Jean Nelson, Wizard of Oz festival founder, dies at 84  Born in Chicago, Nelson eventually moved to Chesterton with her husband, Robert, who preceded her in death. They opened the Yellow Brick Road Gift Shop and Museum, which inspired her to launch a festival in 1981 dedicated to the classic 1939 MGM film. To draw attention to what was originally a one-day event in the yard of her home, a cottage building where the Yellow Brick Road Gift Shop and Museum was also housed, Nelson decided she needed a “special celebrity guest.” The festival achieved worldwide attention for more than three decades, with an annual operating budget of more than $100,000 during its peak years in the 1990s and attracting more than 90,000 attendees each year. Nelson networked with her Munchkin friends and soon had as many as 15 “little people,” all who had played Munchkins in the original film, attending as honored guests.

Todrick Hall’s ‘Straight Outta Oz’ a thrilling performance  The show manages to feel bright and fun and yet quite thoughtful – a rare and exhilarating combination. And it exceeded, in terms of talent and design, some of the national touring musicals that stop at the Saroyan Theatre. Instead, it squeezed into the intimate Tower Theatre with a cast of 18 top-notch performers, making it easily the most successfully ambitious thing I’ve seen staged at the venue. Sure, the stage is tiny and there were some sound and technical issues Thursday night, but overall I was impressed with the scope and impact.

THE WIZ LIVE’s Paul Tazewell, Derek McLane & Neil Meron React to Emmy Nominations  NBC’s THE WIZ LIVE garnered six Emmy Award nominations including Outstanding Production Design (Derek McLane), Outstanding Costumes For A Variety, Nonfiction Or Reality Program (Paul Tazewell), Outstanding Makeup and Hair For A Variety, Nonfiction Or Reality Program, Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Special and Outstanding Technical Direction For A Variety Special.

The Girl Who Owned a Bear Review “The Girl Who Owned a Bear,” adapted by Jonathan Josephson and directed by Paul Millet, is based on a short story by L. Frank Baum, author of “The Wizard of Oz.” What many people may not know about Baum is that he was an ardent women’s rights and suffrage advocate. It’s not an accident he would have strong girls as the leads of his work. Dorothy of “Wizard of Oz” is an outright hero and has served many girls and boys with an image of an adventurous, courageous and bold female. The protagonist of “The Girl Who Owned a Bear,” Jane Gladys Brown (played by Morgan Zenith), is strong in her own way. In what I suspect is a directorial choice, Jane Gladys could be a brat without being a stereotypical one by screaming constantly. I should know. Nonetheless, the story is whimsical and has that famous Baum darkness to it, too.

For summer travel, 6 classic children’s audiobooks  “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’’ by L. Frank Baum, narrated by Anne Hathaway (Audible) Hathaway delivers an extremely capable performance of a classic that has been almost completely eclipsed by the 1939 film version starring Judy Garland, which has become a classic in its own right. The Oscar-winning actress, who seems like a good fit for the central role — the upbeat, can-do Dorothy — does a fine job of bringing the characters to life with a wide range of voices and manners. And she was rewarded for her efforts with a 2013 Audie nomination.

Oz in the News 7.14.16

4521253_origDid L. Frank Baum Predict Augmented Reality or Warn Us About Its Power?  Lyman “L.” Frank Baum was the author of The Wizard of Oz, numerous other Oz installments, and scores of other books and story collections. He was also an amateur futurist, a writer who once remarked that “Imagination transforms the commonplace into the great and creates the new out of the old.” And, one-hundred and fifteen years ago, he predicted the rise of augmented reality. Did he know that the technology would be initially popularized by Pokémon GO? He did not. But what he envisioned in his novel The Master Key isn’t that far off — and may still be an accurate description of what is yet to come. With Pokémon GO, augmented reality apps have at last broken through to the mainstream. This breakthrough is occurring in parallel to the rise of gamified citizenship apps and big-data driven crowdsourced feedback loops, like those employed by Uber. Will these two technological tracks inevitably merge? Baum thought so.

Cover Unveiled for The End of Oz Book  The cover has been unveiled for Danielle Paige’s forthcoming young adult novel, The End of Oz. This book will be the fourth and final installment of the Dorothy Must Die series. Here’s more from Epic Reads: “Welcome to the other side of the rainbow. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magic shoes won’t be able to save you.”

Oz in the News 7.13.16

enhanced-buzz-18300-1355246095-10Wicked Star Kristin Chenoweth Wants To Be Part Of The Movie, But In A Different Role  Kristin Chenoweth recently sat down to speak with PEOPLE about both the upcoming movie adaptation of Wicked, and a possible reunion of the original cast. When asked about the possibility of playing Glinda the Good Witch on the big screen, she said the following: “I know there’s been news of the movie, and I would love to be in it in any capacity. Maybe I’ll play a munchkin this time.” Well, she does stand at a whopping 4’11. While Kristin Chenoweth is (most likely) kidding about being an unnamed munchkin in a Wicked film, it’s safe to say that she’d like to be involved a bit more extensively in the adaptation. In the same interview, she the actress recalled her recent viral video singing with costar Idina Menzel, hinting that fans would most likely want to see the pair together again in the movie.

Todrick Hall Talks Visual Album ‘Straight Outta Oz’ & Hiding Who He Was on ‘American Idol’  I loved The Wizard of Oz so much to the point that I’ve gotten a full-sleeve tattoo of Wizard of Oz-inspired art. I’ve just always loved the story so much and I was like, “I would love to take this story and tell it in a way that my fans haven’t seen me do it before.” I’ve done three or four Wizard of Oz-themed videos but I also auditioned for The Wiz. I got so close to getting the [role of the] Scarecrow and I didn’t get it. I was super depressed. Performers go and do auditions all the time and when you don’t get them, it’s like whatever but because it was The Wizard of Oz and that story is so special to me, I was like, “There’s not a person in America who would want this role more than I would want it.” I decided to turn all the negative things in my life into positives and was like “I didn’t get The Wiz so I’m gonna go make my own version of The Wiz.”

‘Judy Garland Greatest Hits Live’ Limited Edition Colored Vinyl Out Today  Savoy Jazz is excited to announce the release of “Judy Garland Greatest Hits Live” on limited edition audiophile quality colored vinyl as part of Amazon’s “Prime Day” sale today. This special reissue includes recordings taken from the legendary CBS Television series “The Judy Garland Show”which ran for 26 episodes beginning in 1963. The project is a celebratory sampling of her most popular hits and features rare beloved duets including the all-time classic “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” with Barbra Streisand. Other guests include Tony Bennett, Ray Bolger and Ethel Merman.

Oz in the News 7.11.16


Ray Bolger, Elastic Man  Bolger, keeping one eye peeled for a cue to get back to the set from Jerry Thorpe (son of MGM veteran director Richard Thorpe), told us he still had his Oz costume: hat, tunic, pants, leggings and bits of telltale straw (it resided in an upstairs closet alongside the rest of his cardigans) and that he enjoyed watching the film when it was annually rebroadcast on television. Bolger’s charity did not extend to the reimagined stage musical and film version of OzThe Wiz. “I’m sorry to say, I don’t think much of it,” he said. “The Wiz is overblown and will never have the universal appeal The Wizard of Oz has obtained.” Time has proved Bolger correct with The Wiz being a scarcely seen curio chiefly for people interested in the fleeting film careers of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Not My Job: We Quiz Frank Oz On L. Frank Baum, Author Of ‘Wizard Of Oz’  Director and puppeteer Frank Oz is one of the most familiar voices in the world — in fact, he’s dozens of them. As a founder of the Muppets, he was Bert, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Cookie Monster, Yoda, and more. Since he’s probably heard his share of jokes about The Wizard of Oz over the years, we’ve decided to ask him three questions about L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its many sequels.

Oz in the News 7.8.16


Tearing Down the Wizard’s Curtain with Todrick Hall  Straight Outta Oz is nothing but edge, honed razor-sharp—a clean sever from the fluffier world of Hall’s past work. While Hall’s playful aesthetic—what he describes as a cross of “Katy Perry, Pee-wee Herman, and Willy Wonka”—still comes through in the Oz fantasy, each song bleeds as Hall confronts his first love with a man, his conservative family roots, his fallout with his mother, and the perils of navigating Hollywood as a black, gay man. “There just weren’t roles being written for someone like me,” he says. “I have no problem with stereotypical African-American roles or stereotypical gay roles. I’m not one of those guys who waves his flag and says gay guys can’t be hairdressers in TV shows. But we should be able to do more than that, and gay men should take on leading roles as leading men. We’re all still waiting for a wizard to come along and give us permission to go out and chase our dreams.” Hall quit waiting. He wrote and produced Straight Outta Oz in about six weeks. That impossibly tight schedule speaks both to Hall’s mammoth talent and the strong network of star power standing by him. The visual album includes performances from drag superstars Alaska, Willam, Kim Chi, Laganja Estranja and Mariah; fellow YouTube sensation Pentatonix; Glee alum Amber Riley, who plays Hall’s mother; RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen; Perez Hilton; American Idol winner Jordin Sparks; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Classic Practical Effects That Still Hold Up Today  Even in the ’30s the field of visual effects had its masters. And A. Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie was the master who brought Oz to life on the big screen. The effect required a 35-foot-long muslin stocking, a farmhouse landscape built in miniature, a crane, wind machines, and finally a projection of the filmed material behind the actors.

Oz in the News 6.7.16


Get on ‘The Wizard of Oz’ train  Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Rail Events Inc., and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad announce the debut of The Wizard of Oz Train Ride beginning July 14 at the GSMR depot in Bryson City. The 2.5-hour roundtrip journey will retell the story of the beloved movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” on board a real train. Guests will board the train with Dorothy and several of her special friends as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Along the way, you’ll enjoy refreshments and live onboard entertainment featuring all the characters from the iconic film. You’ll then return to Munchkinland with the characters on board the train and available for photos. Children will receive a special gift for helping Dorothy on her unforgettable journey. The adventure operates July 14-17, 21-24, 28-31 and Aug 4-7. Exact excursion times and ticket prices are available by calling 800.872.4681 or by visiting

YouTube star Todrick Hall offers a different kind of ‘Oz’  With 2 million subscribers and 350 million views on YouTube, Todrick Hall knows how to reach an audience. Now the Broadway performer, former “American Idol” semi-finalist and internet video king is coming to Fresno’s Tower Theatre in person. Think of it as a new twist on the classic “Wizard of Oz,” with 20 new songs, a cast of 18 and extensive choreography. “Oz” is stopping in Fresno in a multi-city lineup that includes Vancouver, Portland, Tacoma, Anaheim, Sacramento, Phoenix, Houston and Dallas.

Oz in the News 7.6.16

f6f10e2af7d896b3c99ade54a89a304b_originalKickstarter Alert: Explore L. Frank Baum’s magical world of Oz in this RPG pixel video game  ‘Land of Oz’ is an RPG that takes place years before Dorothy’s arrival in Oz. You play as Captain Fyter, a tin soldier sent to investigate reports of flying monkeys over Winkie County. Along the way you will meet characters from the Oz Universe, including the Wizard and the Nome King. Land of Oz will take place primarily in Winkie County (the western part of Oz) but the player will be able to explore the Emerald City and other locations. Emphasis will be less on combat and more on exploration and a branching storyline.

JUDY GARLAND IN CONCERT 50th Anniversary Celebration Comes to the London Palladium, Oct. 15  Celebrate the legendary voice of Judy Garland in the 50th anniversary year of her iconic London Palladium performance in this audio visual spectacle on the 15th October. Some never before seen and unique footage shown of Judy performing and singing her greatest hits come together with a fabulous live orchestra to accompany her magical voice and recreate her classic arrangements. On screen, hear and see her sing her iconic songs such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Once In A Lifetime, Almost Like Being In Love, Come Rain Or Shine plus rare home videos and photographs from her extraordinary career and life. The show will be hosted and narrated by Radio 2’s Leo Green who will share the stories behind the songs and career of one of the 20th century’s most iconic performers. This special concert will also be complimented by a brand new and exclusive exhibition of over 30 pieces across Judy’s costumes, dresses and memorabilia from her career, on loan from Judy’s son, Joey Luft.