Monthly Archives: September 2016

Oz in the News 9.28.16

downloadHow Near-Death Experiences Paved the Way to the New Judy Garland Musical  What does Marc Acito’s unexplained (yet temporary) paralysis at age four and his mother’s subsequent car crash have to do with the new musical Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz? Well, everything. “I am 50; I first saw The Wizard of Oz when I was three, which was in 1969, and it captivated me,” Acito explains. “A couple of months later, I’m having breakfast, and my father is reading the paper and says to me, ‘Marc, do you remember that girl who played Dorothy?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He points to a picture of her in the newspaper and says, ‘She’s dead.’” Since then Acito has been fixated with how death and The Wizard of Oz intertwine—how darkness and light must intersect before a rainbow appears and the thought of what exists behind the moon and beyond the rain. Years later, when Acito was 13 his mother was involved in a nearly fatal car accident, in which she veered off the road and hit a tree. The car flipped on top of her and pinned her to the ground. “This is where, though, it gets strange—as if that weren’t strange enough,” he says. “She’s now in the stars, if you will—in the sky in her mind—and she’s approached by a spirit guide who arrives in what looks to her like a translucent bubble, and they travel in this bubble over a rainbow bridge. They go over a bridge, and underneath the bridge is a river of enormous flowers. The bridge, like I said, is a rainbow, and they arrive at a crystal palace, where she sees all of her dead relatives, who then inform her that she needs to go back, and then she comes back. She was in the hospital for months and months and months because she was so damaged. She recovered as well, [but] when my mother told me the story of what she experienced when she was dead, it had this ring of recognition for me if you think about the imagery of what she experienced: Glinda arrives in a bubble, Dorothy goes over the rainbow, she arrives in Munchkinland where there are enormous flowers, she goes to an Emerald City. “I’m not saying, necessarily, that any of this is real. She could have been hallucinating… Any number of things are possible here because, of course, who knows what happens when you die. … But it absolutely cemented, in my personal mythology, the idea that The Wizard of Oz is really about mortality—that The Wizard of Oz is actually a near-death experience.

Harlem Rep to Stage Jazzy THE WIZARD OF OZ for Young Audiences  Harlem Repertory Theatre will stage “The Wizard of Oz,” co-produced by the Yip Harburg Foundation, for young (and young-at-heart) audiences October 8 to December 13 at Tato Laviera Theatre at Harlem Prep Elementary School, 240 East 123rd Street (at 3rd Ave.), Manhattan. This production of the classic musical has a multi-racial cast, a jazzy underscore and authoritative dramaturgy by representatives of the Yip Harburg Foundation. The schedule offers weekday shows for school groups and Saturday matinees for the convenience of individual families. Director/choreographer is Keith Lee Grant, Artistic Director of Harlem Rep, who is in the midst of a four-year project of presenting four classic musicals that have lyrics by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, who was known in his lifetime as the “social conscience of Broadway.”

Granville features ‘Wizard of Oz’ in annual Scarecrow festival  The Historic Granville Scarecrow Festival to occur Oct. 1-29 will feature the “Wizard of Oz” movie, which was filmed during the 1930s — the era Granville is currently honoring. The Memory Lane by Sutton General Store will be turned into a great creation telling the story of the “Wizard of Oz.”  “The Wizard of Oz” will be brought to life by a nationally renowned Judy Garland impressionist as Dorothy. The board of directors of Granville Museum stated that they are pleased to  resident Elaine Horn, endorsed by Warner Brothers to Granville. On Oct. 1 at the Granville Fall Celebration, visitors may enjoy a “behind the scenes” look at the “Wizard of Oz” and ask questions about the making of the movie. Be transported to the Land of Oz at 11:30 a.m. and a repeat performance at 1 p.m. with the captivating “Pop-up Storybook” performance. Bring a camera for a free photo opportunity with Dorothy. She will be appearing for fall school day that Historic Granville will host for schools on Sept. 30.

Oz in the News 9.22.16

2016-09-20-1474351952-6047688-rainbow06-thumbThe Song – “Over The Rainbow” With Hillary – One Son’s Dream According to Ernie Harburg, this beautiful and iconic song, lyrics by his father, Yip, and melody by Harold Arlen, is a mantra. And in his way of thinking, it’s a mantra for social justice, immigration, anti-bigotry and for believing in the right of home to be anywhere you land. “Why oh why can’t I?” is Yip’s question to Arlen’s climactic music. (In Japanese, the words translate as “Why can’t I do it?”) He believes that the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” embodies Clinton’s run for President and speaks to many of the problems that this country is going through today. He insists that there is no reason to give in to Trump’s cynicism, racism and lying. A new adaptation of the musical stage version of The Wizard of Oz is being performed this fall at The Harlem Repertory Theatre, directed by Keith Lee Grant, and Ernie is looking to hear a more percussive version of “Over the Rainbow” for the final number. He wants everyone on their feet the same way he wants everyone to get on their feet and go vote for the woman candidate.

Oz in the News 9.20.16

entry_way_-clock-199170906_largeAll Things Oz Museum joins Smithsonian Magazine’s 12th annual Museum Day Live The All Things Oz Museum will open its doors free of charge on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, as a part of Smithsonian Magazine’s 12th annual Museum Day Live. On this day only, participating museums across the United States emulate the spirit of the Smithsonian institution’s Washington DC based facilities which offer free admission every day and open their doors free to those who download a Museum Day Live ticket. The Museum Day Live ticket is available for download at Visitors who present the museum day live ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues on Sept. 24. One ticket per household is permitted; however, the All Things Oz museum will admit any number of people free that day. For more information about museum day live 2016 and a full list of participating museums, visit Information about the All Things Oz Museum can be found at or on their Facebook page

Real ‘Land Of Oz’ The potential drawing power of Oz surfaced in Wamego in 1995 when Tod Machin, a Wamego native, loaned 3,000 items in his Oz collection for an exhibit that drew large crowds at Wamego’s historic Columbian Theatre, named after the 1893 Columbian Exposition (Chicago’s World Fair). When the Oz Museum opened, it gave the town a new theme. Since then, other businesses have jumped on the Oz bandwagon. Would Dorothy like Mexican food? At any rate, she could try such specialties as Aunt Em’s Nachos and Tin Man Bean Burritos at Toto’s Tacoz, an eatery next door to the museum. However, Dorothy wouldn’t be old enough to sample the libations at the Oz Winery, where vintages include “Witch Gone Good,” “Ruby Slippers,” and “The Lion’s Courage.” Wamego stages an annual Oz festival called OZtoberfest. It features a Yellow Brick Road Bike Ride, a One Wicked Run, and a costume contest that lures many dressed like their favorite Oz character. Experts on Oz topics will speak at the museum. This year’s OZtoberfest will be Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2.

Oz in the News 9.18.16

oz1Oz: Broken Kingdom Review – We’re Off To the Free the Wizard Being familiar with the traditional interpretation of The Wizard of Oz, I had no idea that things had turned so violent and aggressive since Dorothy’s first tale. That’s pretty much what you get with Oz: Broken Kingdom, though. The game is a level based RPG with players negotiating the land of Oz by destroying all enemies in their wake. It’s all quite reminiscent of other free-to-play RPGs on the market, but with an Oz style twist going on. Ultimately though, you’ll mostly be focusing on the campaign mode. A story gradually unfolds this way, and while it’s a little on the simplistic side, it’s rewarding to see how things pan out. You can switch your heroes around, giving you the opportunity to play as characters such as Tin Man, Lion, or Scarecrow. And if we ever managed to liberate the land of Oz in the end, we think we’ll feel pretty pleased about that too.


Over the Rainbow: Autumn at Oz attracts thousands  BEECH MOUNTAIN, NC — There’s no place quite like the Land of Oz. Wrapped in the whimsy and fantasy of the 1939 classic film, the 18-acre theme park opened its gates for its annual Autumn at Oz festival on Sept. 8, 9 and 10.Attracting more than 8,500 visitors from across the country, the three-day event offered fans the ultimate Oz experience. Following a shuttle ride up to the park, guests immersed themselves in the sights and sounds of Oz on their journey from Kansas to the Emerald City. After being greeted by emissaries of the Wizard upon arrival, each guest had the opportunity to have their picture made with Dorothy at the Fountain of Youth. Making their way to Kansas, characters such as the fortune-telling Professor Marvel and the mean-spirited Almira Gulch greeted them along the way. While Marvel foretold of the coming tornado, Gulch encouraged passersby to report any sighting of Dorothy and her companion, Toto, the adorable little dog whom Gulch described as “a menace to the community.”

img_4847-crop-u39984Elements of Oz  See the Land of Oz as never before as The Builders Association takes you behind the scenes and into the legacy of The Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum’s classic is revisited live onstage while the custom-designed Elements of Oz app turns each audience member’s phone into part of the performance. From Dark Side of the Moon and “Friends of Dorothy” to a virtual YouTube chorus singing Oz classics, revel in its longstanding greatness and many interpretations and tributes.


Look Inside Judy Garland’s Rustic Home in Bel-Air  The picture that made her a star, of course, was The Wizard of Oz (1939). To millions all over the world she will be remembered forever as the lovable Dorothy, wistfully searching for happiness somewhere over the rainbow. A 1939 special Oscar honored her for her “outstanding performance as a screen juvenile.” It was during the making of the picture that Garland and her mother planned their new house on one of Bel-Air’s most bucolic streets. Though she was still a teenager, Garland was deeply involved in the project, and she probably provided much of its inspiration. During the years in Lancaster her mother had forced her to spend much of her time on the road, going from audition to audition, job to job; later, in Los Angeles, there had been a series of apartments and rented houses. The house in Bel-Air was to be the first permanent home she had had since leaving Minnesota twelve years earlier.

Is It Still Scary: Return to Oz  From 1995 to 1996, my sister subjected my family to a daily viewing of The Wizard of Oz. Daily. As in she convinced each of my recently divorced parents that she’d be less traumatized by our broken family if she got to eat Ramen Noodles for dinner every night, sitting in front of the TV, watching her rapidly deteriorating VHS copy of the beloved 1939 classic. Maybe in hopes of expanding our movie collection or perhaps in a desperate fit of, “I can’t f*cking watch The Wizard of Oz one more time,” my dad introduced us to Return to Oz, the 1985 sequel-ish to the (set on permanent repeat in the Maxwell household) classic musical. He had a receptive audience in me; I was one “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” before my descent into madness.


Oz in the News 9.14.16

such-mad-fun-the-wizard-of-oz-02Scholarly Munchkins, an Encounter with Clark Gable, and More Surprises from the Set of The Wizard of Oz  Jane had heard how tough it was to get on the set of The Wizard of Oz: “Even Mr. LeRoy [producer Mervyn LeRoy] had to write himself a pass, they said. No executives, no nothing. But being the goaded-by-adversity type, after lunch one day I wandered down.” Jane wandered past electricians, makeup men, and a few old rubber hoses right into Munchkinland. At first she thought the Munchkins were “dressed up children.” But in fact they were “the largest collection of midgets in the world—especially gathered for The Wizard. And what a collection! . . . The younger Munchkins have transparent ears and long green feet, which curl in corkscrews almost to their knees. They are uncommonly attractive as to faces—with sly wrinkled smiles and luminous dark eyes.” She was surprised to learn that most of the little people (“midget” is now considered a pejorative term) came from “very ordinary walks of life.” The mayor of Munchkinland, Charles Becker [born Karl Becker in Germany], had graduated from an engineering school. “He looked rather weary, discussing it. ‘But nobody takes an engineer seriously, these days,’ he said sadly. ‘I mean, if he is also a midget.’ ” “The sad little human interest story” of a man who had been desperate for years to get a break in Hollywood made a big impression on Jane. Ecstatic upon hearing he could report to work for The Wizard, “he was sure his chance had come.” The job? To stand inside a hollow apple tree and call out one line: “You’ve got a nerve, picking my apples!” And that was it. She was happy to learn, though, that the S.P.C.A. insisted the makeup department use lemon and raspberry gelatin and no toxic dyes on the animals that played the Horse of a Different Color. Actually, two white horses, Jake and William, “were colored with the same vegetable-dye pigments found in Jell-O” but not with the product itself.

Oz in the News 9.6.16

image13-2The Wicked Wizard Of Oz Puts A Dark, Dieselpunk Twist On A Classic  Jonathan Green, famed author of various Fighting Fantasy game books and some other popular works of fiction such as Dr. Who, has taken to Kickstarter to promote his latest project:: The Wicked Wizard of Oz. The book is a dieselpunk retelling of the classic Wizard of Oz tale but with a nightmarish twist. The game book sees players being able to take on the roles of Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, the Lion or even the Wicked Witch herself. The book is considered as a solo-RPG for fans and enthusiasts of alternative fiction that turns some classic tales upside down. Some of the art for the game book actually looks pretty cool, especially the Tin Woodman. The Kickstarter has already garnered $6,354 and it still has 27 days to go, so it looks like they’re definitely going to surpass their goal. If you like what Jonathan Green is pitching with The Wicked Wizard of Oz, you can learn more about the backer rewards and the project by visiting the Kickstarter page.


Oz in the News 9.4.16

636083563292366478-DSC-0759Return to Oz: Vintage theme parks enjoy an afterlife  Funky old fair midways just pack up and hit the road; they will live to Tilt-a-Whirl another day. But fate is less kind to time-honored amusement parks. Their mortality rate is high when bankruptcy or natural calamity shutter their gates. Time and vandalism work against them. Intact attractions are usually sold and carted away; what remains are broken-dream eyesores situated on prime acreage ready for redevelopment. “Derelict parks are not in condition to reopen,” says Jim Futrell, historian for the National Amusement Park Association. “They’re in disrepair and are dangerous.” But not here. Land of Oz, dead these past 36 years, attracts 7,500 fans of the park — and of the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie that inspired it – to the annual Autumn at Oz weekend. The September event is so popular that this June, Friday walk-throughs of the grounds were also offered. What saved Dorothy’s house, large portions of the Yellow Brick Road and several other Oz features is its improbable fallen-from-the-sky location on a mountain top in northwest North Carolina.

Miss New Jersey Follows Yellow Brick Road To Lodi  The yellow brick road leads to the Lodi Memorial Library on Sept. 29 when Miss New Jersey celebrates the 116th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” novel. An excerpt of the book will be read before a Q&A session and book signing with Brenna Weick, 22. Weick will perform her version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the musical. The 1939 MGM “Wizard of Oz” film will be screened afterward.

Someone has re-written The Wizard of Oz and now it’s set in Merthyr Tydfil  The Wizard of Oz is one of the best loved films of all time. But a raucous stage version of the 1939 flick has turned the script on its head – it now features a dope-smoking scarecrow, a tramp tin man and a camp cowardly lion in Merthyr Tydfil . And in the Wizard of Gurnwah – posh for Gurnos – Dorothy has abandoned her ruby slippers for a pair of white stilettos.  “Dorothy says smackheads, gangsters and whores, smackheads gangsters and whores,” co-writer Anthony Bunko said. “I hope L Frank Baum would enjoy it.”

Oz in the News 9.2.16


Second annual Midwest Wizard of Oz Fest in Tinley Park  “We really worked hard on making it a bigger and better festival,” said Kristina Verduyn, marketing and event director of Midwest Wizard of Oz Fest. “We included new things for everyone to enjoy. For instance, we added Emerald City Brew Beer Tent. We’ve got new entertainment. This year we have a mini production by New American Folk Theatre of ‘The Marvelous Land of Oz.’ “We also expanded ‘The Wizard of Oz’ throughout the festival. It’s not just centrally located on the Yellow Brick Road. We did improve the Yellow Brick Road. We also included scenes from other adaptations of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It’s not just the original motion picture.” Celebrating L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and other entertainment inspired by the 1900 children’s novel, Midwest Wizard of Oz Fest welcomes back three of its 2015 speakers. “John Fricke is a respected Oz historian and Oz author. He will be speaking on Judy Garland playing Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. He really knows what he’s talking about,” said Verduyn, of Crestwood. “Ryan Jay will be sharing red carpet interviews and backstage interviews of talking to the staff and cast of ‘The Wiz Live!’ “Mary Ellen St. Aubin is in her 90s. She’ll recall her husband, Parnell, and his role as a Munchkin soldier in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ film. She’s so important to the community. She has some great experiences through her husband.” New on the guest speakers list is Aaron Harburg, who discusses his great-grandfather E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, the lyricist for “The Wizard of Oz” movie and recipient of the 1939 Academy Award for best original song for “Over the Rainbow” with composer Harold Arlen.