Monthly Archives: November 2017

Oz in the News 11.28.17

Basha: Dancing Down the Yellow Brick Road Basha’s father worked with a man named Joe who was married to one of the little people from the Wizard of Oz. (In fact it was Joe’s wife who taught Basha the Mexican Hat Dance!) When Basha met them she was in her teens and had her first real break through on the glories of the Wizard of Oz. Now the Wizard of Oz has encompassed every part of her life. She is close, personal friends with a number of the little people. Clarence Swensen (a soldier); Carl Slover (a trumpeter); Jerry Marlin (a lollipop kid); Margaret Pellegrini (one of the flower pot’s that opened to reveal a “sleepy head”); Raabe Meinhart (the coroner) and Donna Steward Hardway (one of the few child-actors that played a munchkin) are among her many Wizard of Oz character friends. Basha’s home is loaded with authentic and fabulous Wizard of Oz collectibles.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ to return to Syracuse Stage after almost 15 years Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West and the magical kingdom of Oz will call Syracuse Stage home for the holidays. The production of “The Wizard of Oz” opens on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama Complex, located on the corner of East Genesee Street and Irving Avenue, and will run until Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. “I am staying more true to L. Frank Baum’s original intentions,” Donna Drake said. “The only thing that is a little bit reimagined about this production is that we are bringing in a lot of circus and aerial arts and groundwork into this production. So, it will be quite a spectacle to see.” A lecture on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. will feature two-time Emmy winner John Fricke, who, Whelan said, is known as the “world’s preeminent ‘Wizard of Oz’ and Judy Garland historian and author.” The lecture will also feature panels by the Onondaga Historical Association.

Australian theatre star Jemma Rix to star in new Wizard of Oz After stunning audiences in her role as Elphaba in Wicked, Jemma Rix now steals the stage as the Wicked Witch from the West in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz. She joins 4BC’s Ray Hadley in the studio to discuss her role and how she maintains her vocal health performing in such intense productions.

Oz in the News 11.24.17

Life of ‘Over the Rainbow’ lyricist to be celebrated  E.Y. “Yip” Harburg was an unsung hero whose songs we’ve always sung. His name may not be familiar, but the many songs of Edgar Yipsel Harburg certainly are: “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “April in Paris,” “Brother, Can you Spare a Dime,” and what is perhaps the most beloved tune of the 20th century, “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.” He won an Academy Award for “Over the Rainbow,” yet his name has virtually been forgotten. To help reintroduce Harburg’s work and legacy to a new generation, a free public program entitled “The Song You Know, The Man You Don’t: An Evening of Stories and Songs Celebrating Yip Harburg,”  will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Sunflower Financial Theatre at Salina Community Theatre. The program will be hosted by Ryan Jay, a nationally syndicated film critic and “Wizard of Oz” historian who has produced everything from “The Jerry Springer Show” to entertainment specials on Bravo, Showtime, Nickelodeon and MTV. Also on hand will be Harburg’s great-grandsons, musician David Harburg and producer Aaron Harburg, who will tell stories of their great-grandfather’s life and perform several of his classic songs. 

Oz in the News 11.9.17

Run Through the Wonderful World of Oz in Run, Dorothy, Run! Virtro Entertainment has announced today that their upcoming “rhythm runner” for the PSVR, Run, Dorothy, Run!, is releasing on December 12. For those that might not have caught on, the game does star Dorothy and takes place in the fantasy world of The Wizard of Oz. Over at the PlayStation Blog, Jordan Bright – one of the Founders of Virtro Entertainment – discussed some of the game, in which you play as Dorothy, the girl from Kansas who ends up in Oz. The game, which is billed as a “rhythm runner,” is set around you having to run around and pick up the Wizard’s things, as the Wicked Witch of the West has stolen them. To help you along on your quest, the Wizard has granted you magical shoes which allow her to always run, and the game features an electro-swing beat that should keep you wanting to move as often as possible. Run, Dorothy, Run! launches first on PSVR on December 12.

Oz in the News 11.6.17

New Children’s Book ‘Becoming Judy Garland’ Explores The Young Life Of ‘Miss Show Business’ On The Road To Oz Becoming Judy Garland (Tribal Clef Books; November 2017) is the new children’s book from bestselling author Randy L. Schmidt. Readers will discover how Frances Gumm, this “little girl with the BIG voice,” went from vaudeville to movie stardom and landed the role of a lifetime. “I wrote this book because I feel Judy Garland is still relevant to children, even after all these years,” said Schmidt, a longtime music educator. “The timeless appeal of The Wizard of Oz speaks to today’s kids in the same way it has for nearly 80 years. The Library of Congress says it’s ‘the most watched film ever,” so most kids know Dorothy’s story, but not necessarily Judy’s. This book brings her extraordinary talent to life again for a new audience of adoring fans.” A limited-edition hardcover book/CD set is available now through the author’s website. The CD features the audiobook, narrated by Grammy-nominated children’s musician Judy Pancoast, as well as rare recordings by the Gumm Sisters, two “lost” test recordings of Judy at age 12, and a live radio performance of “Over the Rainbow.” For more information or to order the limited-edition set, visit the bookstore at

Oz in the News 11.4.17

Cinedigm Says All Aboard to THE STEAM ENGINES OF OZ Arcana Studios has produced a steampunk re-imagining of the iconic land of Oz and its well-known inhabitants created by L. Frank Baum. The picture is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Sean Patrick O’Reilly and Erik W. Hendrix. O’Reilly, the founder and CEO of Arcana Studios, also serves as the picture’s writer, director, and executive producer. Dario Sanchez and Michelle O’Reilly are also producers on the film. THE STEAM ENGINES OF OZ features the voice cast of Ron Perlman as Magnus, the son of the Cowardly Lion, with William Shatner as Oscar “Oz” Diggs and Julianne Hough as Locasta, the Witch of the North. Additional voice talent includes Ashleigh Ball, Scott McNeil, Matthew Clark, and Dan Payne. Set a century after Dorothy Gale first clicked her heels together, the once utopic Emerald City is now heavily industrialized and ruled by the iron fist of the once-beloved Tin Man, who has seemingly lost all heart. Oz’s only hope rests with a young engineer, Victoria Wright. With her motley team of ill-mannered munchkins, mischievous flying monkeys, and rough-housing lions, Victoria discovers that even the smallest of heroes can change the world.


Oz in the News 11.3.17

Fairuza Balk Talks Return to Oz Documentary “It was my birthday and I was sad because I was working. I had thought that my mom and everyone had forgotten and I was trying to be a little trooper and not say anything. And then at lunch, Robbie Barnett, who played one of the Wheelers… He came out dressed as a giant bunny on stilts with an enormous carrot. He picked me up and put me up on his shoulders and walked me around on the stilts, and he brought out a big birthday cake and everybody wished me happy birthday. I was just so, so surprised and felt so loved. It’s a very, very pristine and clear memory of how they treated me on that film and how protective and loving everyone was. You hear these horror stories about what kids go through on movies and it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone treated me like I was their kid. It was wonderful.”

Wizard of Oz’s Jerry Maren of the Lollipop​ Guild is the last surviving Munchkin at age of 97 Born in 1920 in Boston, Maren was only 18 at the time of casting and stood just three feet six inches tall. Although he was the youngest of them all when cast as a Munchkin, the actor was specifically picked to play the green-garbed member of the Lollipop Guild and the central figure in the male Munchkin trio. After his screen debut in The Wizard of Oz, Maren continued to act in movies and television shows on occasion, working as Little Oscar for the Oscar Mayer Company in the 1950s as well as portraying Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar in McDonald’s commercials. In later years, he had a walk-on role in an episode of Seinfeld named “The Yada Yada.” All in all, he’s had different opportunities in show biz, but none as memorable as his Munchkin role.