Oz in the News 8.12.16

UntitledThe yellow brick road leads to Mapleton for Oz Fest  After a humble four years of hosting Oz Fest in Butler Haynes Park and drawing a crowd of a few hundred local people, the Hollis Park District was inundated with an explosion of attendance in 2015 — they stopped counting when the number eclipsed 5,000. Following the 2014 edition of the festival, posts on the event’s Facebook page became more frequent and a Google search of Oz festivals yielded the Mapleton one near the top. “For something that was supposed to be just for kids, it has really exploded,” said Jim Robertson, director of parks and recreation for the Park District.

What happens when your whimsical ‘Wizard of Oz’ obsession actually pays off?  At just 31, Todrick Hall has already had an extraordinary career — one that exemplifies the creative possibilities of the Internet Age. Through parody videos, creative covers and the occasional original song, Hall has transformed himself from “American Idol” has-been to YouTube demigod, amassing tens of millions of views on several videos and more than 2 million subscribers to his channel. A-listers such as Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift have appeared in his videos, and Swift and Beyoncé make cameos in recorded segments of Hall’s tour. He has his own eponymous MTV reality show and a spot on the judging panel for “RuPaul’s All Star Drag Race,” which returns Aug. 25. His visual album “Straight Outta Oz,” which he wrote and produced, was the second-best-selling on iTunes for a week in June — just behind Beyoncé’s “Lemonade.” “For me to be an African American gay man on the top of the charts next to Beyoncé’s album is a huge accomplishment,” he says.

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