Monthly Archives: October 2018

Oz in the News 10.31.18

We’re Off to See the Wizard! 7 Little Johnstons Family Unveils Wizard of Oz Halloween Costumes The 7 Little Johnstons family is not in Kansas anymore. Amber and Trent Johnston and their children Jonah, Anna, Elizabeth, Alex and Emma drew inspiration from The Wizard of Oz for their colorful Halloween costumes. Each family member took on a different role — including Dorothy in her blue gingham dress, the cowardly lion with an adorable mane, the tinman with his own special heart, the scarecrow with cute patches, Glinda with a regal wand, the Wicked Witch of the West in green face paint and the titular wizard in a top hat. The family even decked out the lawn with a decorative house plopped on the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet, a yellow brick road and the emerald gates of Oz.

Where Are the Original Cast Members of Broadway’s Wicked Now? For 15 years, Wicked has welcomed theatregoers to Oz. The musical spectacle features a star-studded cast singing Stephen Schwartz’s fantastical score, which has led to record-breaking grosses. (The Broadway production has broken the Gerswhin house record 24 times during its run.) A prequel to L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz based on the Gregory Maguire novel, the show focuses on the rivalry-turned-friendship between Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda as classmates at Shiz University long before Dorothy’s arrival in Oz. Broadway has been changed for good since the opening of Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre in 2003, but what have the leading players of the show been up to since their departures?


Oz in the News 10.30.18

Theatre West and Artist Levi Ponce Celebrate Judy Garland in New Mural On Sunday, October 27th, Theatre West presented a beautiful new addition to the urban art landscape in Los Angeles with the unveiling of local artist Levi Ponce‘s latest mural featuring Judy Garland. Painted in full color and pictured with the Emerald City behind her, the portrait immortalizes one of the most beloved singers of all time in her signature role – Dorothy Gale from the classic 1939 MGM musical, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Drivers going south on the 101 freeway through the Cahuenga Pass will get a gorgeous view of the mural off to the right as they pass by the theater. Those familiar with the artist’s body of work will recognize his vivid images and unique style, one that has come to signify the very culture of Los Angeles.

Judy Garland’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ Ruby Red Rehearsal Slippers Coming to Auction on Invaluable “We have more than 250 items with impeccable provenance that represent many of the defining moments in entertainment history. We will, without question, make history on auction day,” said GWS Auctions founder Brigitte Kruse. “The Legends sale features some of the most memorable items ever worn, used or owned by the world’s biggest stars. It’s an important and fascinating chronicle of Hollywood and the music business and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own a piece of history that touched us all,” Kruse added. On offer are the rare and unusual – movie costumes, personal clothing, photographs, signed contracts, stage worn costumes, jewelry, props, handwritten lyrics, musical instruments, awards, vehicles, ephemera, letters and more – even a burial plot in a cemetery of the stars. The Legends: Iconic Hollywood and Music Memorabilia auction is Nov. 3 at 10 p.m. PDT. Bids can be placed now or during the live auction on

Oz in the News 10.29.18

How The Wizard of Oz plays a key role in The Walking Dead In the most recent episode of The Walking Dead titled “Warning Signs”, Rick Grimes shares the story of The Wizard of Oz with Judith in a very heartwarming scene. It wasn’t a coincidence that Rick decided to read this particular story to Judith, there was definitely a greater reason. Looking back at the magical story of The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum there are so many great themes. One in particular that stands out is the theme of friendship. Now taking a look at the current story in The Walking Dead, we can find a very similar theme. It’s also so interesting that Rick is reading this story to Judith because just like Dorothy, Judith is living in a world that sort of is in a “constant tornado” watch. Rick wants Judith to have those magical and happy memories just like Dorothy had when she visited Oz. He knows that Judith will find her place in this world because she is protected by so many great friends and family.

Oz in the News 10.25.18

On its 40th anniversary, a look at how ‘The Wiz’ forever changed black culture Forty years after its original release, no film has uniquely defined black culture and shaped the framework of a musical genre quite like “The Wiz.” An adaptation of the groundbreaking Broadway musical — itself a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s fantasy “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” that became the beloved Judy Garland movie — the Sidney Lumet-directed film had a rapturous soundtrack produced by Quincy Jones, a cast that included Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Nipsey Russell, Mabel King and Richard Pryor and an aesthetic firmly rooted in black culture. For a generation of black Americans, this was the first time they saw people who spoke, sung and moved the way they did in a Broadway production and, later, a big-screen musical, and it has become a kind of rite of passage for the black community. Everyone remembers their first time experiencing “The Wiz.” If it’s the stage production, that likely came from performing it in high school or seeing a touring troupe tackle it, but the film is the most accessible entry into the all-black retelling of “The Wizard of Oz.” Many of us recall watching it with family during the holidays, huddled around the TV and singing the tunes.

Oz in the News 10.20.18

First Look at Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande, and More in A Very Wicked Halloween Original Wicked stars Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth reunited to host and perform during NBC’s A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway. The special event will air October 29 (the eve of the musical juggernaut’s anniversary) at 10 PM. Performing alongside the pair of Tony winners will be pop star and Broadway alum Ariana Grande (a noted Wicked superfan), the a cappella group Pentatonix, the current Broadway cast of the musical (led by Jessica Vosk and Amanda Jane Cooper), Adam Lambert, and Ledisi.

Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in a movie anymore: How ‘Oz’ morphs in book, film, ballet Marilyn James of Kansas City missed the movie villain Miss Gulch. “I was a little sad to see she’s not in the book,” she said. “Such a great character in the movie.” Jane Albright, president of the International Wizard of Oz Club, pointed out, “And yet the movie doesn’t resolve her. Miss Gulch is still there at the end and she could still take Toto.” Albright, along with “Oz” book collector Lynn Beltz of Curlew, Wash., attends annual “Oz” events around the country and visits schools that are reading the book. “There are many more obstacles in the book than there are in the movie,” James said. “This made the book seem more like a fairy tale.”

Beyond The Frame: The Wizard of Oz While the difficult production of The Wizard of Oz (1939) would have four directors — including Richard Thorpe, George Cuckor, King Vidor and Victor Fleming (who would be finally credited) — MGM studio cinematographer Harold Rosson, ASC would see the production through from beginning to end, and earn an Academy Award nomination for his sumptuous color photography. The opening and closing credits, as well as the Kansas sequences, were filmed in black-and-white and tinted using a sepia-tone process.

Oz in the News 10.19.18

‘Sequin by sequin,’ it took over 200 hours to restore Dorothy’s ruby red slippers When people first see the pair of Ruby Slippers on display at the National Museum of American History, they’re often surprised to see how small they are. “It brings home the fact that Judy Garland was 16 years old when making the film. . . . It’s a very recognizable and understandable object,” Ryan Lintelman, curator of entertainment at the museum, told the Smithsonian Magazine. Garland played Dorothy Gale in “The Wizard of Oz,” and she wore a size 5 heel, according to a tweet from the museum. “Tiny, right?” the tweet says.

Oz in the News 10.14.18

Ruby slippers to return to view at National Museum of American History Beginning on Friday, October 19, from 12 – 3 p.m., the red shoes will be on display, along with the Scarecrow’s hat, which was worn by actor Ray Bolger in the 1939 film, as the museum celebrates the opening weekend of their Ruby Slippers gallery and eight other American Culture displays. The now sparkling red slippers have been in the museum’s Conversation Lab where they were stabilized and cleaned. The opening weekend celebration will continue on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 12 to 3 p.m. The event is free to the public. Treats will be available for purchase in the museum’s cafes. Click here for more information on this event

Oz in the News 10.13.18

Turner Entertainment opposes use of ‘Wicked Witch’ in trademark Turner Entertainment Company has filed an opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to stop witch and Pagan elder Dorothy Morrison from trademarking her brand name ‘Wicked Witch Mojo.”  Turner Entertainment, a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia, serves as the copyright holder for a large library of productions made by its sister subsidiary Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (aka, Warner Brothers), that includes The Wizard of Oz (1939). In 2001, Turner successfully trademarked the terms “Wicked Witch”  and “Wicked Witch of the West.” In 2008, the company trademarked “Wicked Witch of the East” and expanded that of “Wicked Witch”. Then, in 2014, it trademarked “Wicked Wiches” [sic] It is for this reason that Turner has decided to file an opposition notice in response to Morrison’s own attempt to trademark her business name.

The Kansas City Ballet’s ‘Oz’ Takes Musical Cues From Jazz, Disco, Glam Rock, Country Fiddling… The newest production, “The Wizard of Oz” by choreographer Septime Webre, receives its world premiere on Friday with the Kansas City Ballet. “We kind of found inspiration in unexpected corners,” Webre says, drawing from brash jazz, grooving disco, glam rock guitar, country fiddling, Middle Eastern timbres, and new wave. Matthew Pierce wrote the music, performed by the Kansas City Symphony. This is Webre and Pierce’s fifth project together, which includes “Alice (In Wonderland),” performed by Kansas City Ballet in 2014. Pierce sends recordings to Webre and they begin a volley of edits and suggestions, until the ballet is mapped out musically. “It takes about six to eight months to build the score. And that’s well before a single step is danced,” says Webre. “Once the score is done, then I create the dance.”

The Wizard Behind the Curtain Robert O’Hara brings female-themed production of ‘The Wiz’ to TUTS Openly gay thespian Robert O’Hara promises a “contemporary” feel for this month’s production of The Wiz at Theatre Under The Stars, sparked by the casting of several women who will play male characters in this 1975 musical based on The Wizard of Oz. The Cowardly Lion, for example, is played by a female “because the female lion is the hunter and the gatherer,” O’Hara explains. “For a lioness to have no courage, it takes your imagination to a different place.” That place is today, he says. “Our Dorothy lives right now. She is a teenage girl in the age of Beyoncé, Trump, and the Internet, where social media tells you everything that’s wrong with you.” The Wizard, too, is a female in O’Hara’s mounting, which runs October 23–November 4 at the Hobby Center. “Since the actor playing the Wizard is usually double-cast as Uncle Henry, I’m calling her Aunt Henrietta,” he says. “That means that Dorothy will be raised by two women. We’re not saying they are two lesbians. We call them her two aunts. We just let the audience take it on face value.”

THE 5 SCARIEST SCENES IN RETURN TO OZ Return to Oz isn’t a light family romp; it’s a downright horror movie. It even takes place on Halloween! It’s hard to top the sequence in Mombi’s castle. Earlier in the film, we learn that Mombi lives in a grand palace with halls full of beautiful, decapitated female heads. The witch captures Dorothy and her friends, who learn that Mombi possesses a magical powder capable of reviving once-living things. At night, Dorothy sneaks into Mombi’s closet to steal the powder so she can escape on her moose plane, but the headless witch awakens, along with her hall of heads, who scream after her. To this day, I consider this one of the scariest scenes ever put to film. It’s not just the stuff of children’s horror, but the sort of thing that leaves a permanent scar.

Oz in the News 10.11.18

San Diego County Fair promises to be ‘Oz-some’ in 2019 The San Diego County Fair’s 2019 theme of “Oz-some” will encompass the iconic books and films surrounding L. Frank Baum’s classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” “The Fair’s theme is quite special to San Diegans, because Oz author L. Frank Baum is thought to have found inspiration for at least 3 of his 14 Oz books during his extended stays in Coronado,” Katie Mueller, deputy general manager of fair time operations, said. “Though most people know Oz only through the famous movie, the Fair has chosen to bring the books to life, including a few differences that will be a surprise to most. For instance, Dorothy’s famous slippers are silver, not ruby.” The fair will run from May 31, 2019, to July 4, 2019, and be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in June. Fair officials say San Diegans will get to journey to Emerald City and enjoy education exhibits, wicked carnival rides, and more fair fun they’ve come to know and love.

Oz in the News 10.10.18

The Tin Woods: A Stop Motion Short Film Did you know that the Tin Woodman from Oz was once made of meat? Just like you or me! This short film will show the process by which the Tin Woodman became who we know today. This story is inspired by a scene in L.Frank Baum’s book The Tin Woodman of Oz, in which the Tin Man finds his old flesh head locked in a cupboard in an old cabin. Our take on this story focuses on the question: “What makes us human?” Anyone who donates $5 or more will be able to stream the final film once it is completed via a unique access code. Further rewards include an adorable pin, a replica of the Tin Woodman’s axe form our film, disc media, sculptures, and a unique puppet once it is retired from production. Have you ever wanted to be a film producer? Upper tier rewards include varying levels of producer credits as well!