Oz in the News 5.17.18

Dorothy’s ruby slippers will return to the National Museum of American History on Oct. 19 The artifacts from the 1939 MGM movie “The Wizard of Oz” will be a highlight of an interim display of American popular culture, museum officials said. The permanent cultural galleries, which are closed, will reopen in 2020. “We wanted to return these to display earlier than that and to bring out other objects from the collection,” spokeswoman Laura Duff said. Dorothy’s sequined slippers — one of several pairs worn by Judy Garland — went off view on April 23, 2017, for conservation and research. The project was supported by a Kickstarter campaign in 2016 that raised nearly $350,000 from more than 6,400 supporters. The Smithsonian’s first Kickstarter in 2015 raised $719,779 to conserve and display Neil Armstrong’s Apollo spacesuit. When the ruby slippers return this fall, they will be displayed in one of eight installations focused on American culture, including music, sports and entertainment.

Review: El Wiz – Fringe 2018 L.Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” gets re-set in contemporary Puerto Rico in Paul Castañeda and Juan Cantú’s “The Wiz.” There are great ideas in Castañeda’s adaptation to make the story relevant — the Scarecrow has Asperger’s, the Tin Man is gay. Most important, the tornado is now Hurricane Maria. In the stirring opening, the islanders plead for help – “We are one,” they sing in Spanish. “We are part of your country.” But thankfully, “El Wiz” isn’t a political screed. Rather, it’s an exuberant celebration of heritage and resilience.  Castañeda has found a magnificent –— and gigantic — cast. There are so many people on stage, in fact, that as director he doesn’t always focus the audience’s attention on where it needs to be. Still, many make strong impressions, especially Crystal Lizardo as determined Dorothy, Desiree Montes as the spirit of her mother and a pair of Ericks: Erick Sureda has great moves and stirs compassion for the Scarecrow, Erick Perafan brings a spectacular tenor to the Tin Man. Cantú’s music is almost always highly engaging — the Lizardo-led “Mi Isla” is also particularly memorable.

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