Monthly Archives: December 2020

Oz in the News 12.27.20

Batman, Art Heists, Chippendales & Judy Garland’s Slippers…The Podcasts To Watch Out For In 2021 A pair of red sequined slippers worn by Judy Garland’s Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz were found in 2018, 13 years after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The culprit, however, has never been caught. This story is now the subject of No Place Like Home, an original non-fiction series from Cadence13, the company behind biker gang story Relative Unknown and the upcoming Unsolved Mysteries podcast. The show, which launches in summer 2021, will detail the theft and the return of the slippers and will also take listeners into the fraught relationship between Grand Rapids and their most famous daughter, the wacky world of Hollywood memorabilia and the conflict between Hollywood and Minnesota, small town suspicions, the tensions between the local cops and the FBI, and the market for lost and stolen art.

Oz in the News 12.20.20

Headup Games Announces Scarlet Hood & The Wicked Wood Featuring Devespresso’s signature manhwa-style with hand-illustrated graphics by Minho Kim and story by T.L. Riven, Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood is a vibrant puzzle adventure set within an Oz-esque fantasy world. The game features a recurring time loop (think Groundhog Day) that creates unique branching story paths. Scarlet, the protagonist and a rock diva in the making, awakes in the realm of Glome after being flung over by a rogue tornado. She discovers a vibrant world brimming with magic, beauty, and artifacts from a mysterious bygone culture. Her strange journey begins when she takes up the mantle of the Red Witch and leads a troupe of Munchkins through the forbidden Wicked Wood. In a world full of riddles and wonders, she encounters witches, tin knights, talking beasts, monsters, and many fearsome creatures to overcome. The fledgling witch soon discovers a Recursion Hex has her reliving the same day. However, each death presents new opportunities to branch the adventure in exciting new ways. Ultimately, her decisions lead to multiple endings. In the deep wood, where a bad hungry wolf roams and a wicked witch casts her evil spells, Scarlet must rely on her wits and a small fox, acting as her pathfinder, to overcome the disasters that await her at every turn.

Oz in the News 12.18.20

New Orleans gets The Wizard of Oz treatment in Bourbon Whiz The feature is as much a parody of New Orleans as it is The Wizard of Oz, with the creators clearly poking fun at the city they call home. Frantically paced with one foot dangling in reality, Bourbon Whiz certainly demonstrates how truth can be stranger than fiction. The production features several original songs along with parodic remixes of classics from The Wizard of Oz. These songs cover a variety of genres you’d find playing around New Orleans, including country, rock, techno and blues. Moving quickly from location to location, the feature never dwells on any of its gags long enough for you to get tired of them. A great mix of singing and acting talent combine to create something incredibly expressive. Providing a vision of New Orleans through the lens of The Wizard of Oz, Bourbon Whiz makes for a clever and entertaining experience that’s best enjoyed with friends and a few drinks.

Oz in the News 12.17.20

Join Santa Claus on an audioventure from The Empty Space Most of us are well-acquainted with the traditional tales of St. Nick, but The Empty Space has a fresh take on the jolly old elf with the upcoming “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.” Director Jeremiah Heitman adapted the new audio play from the book by L. Frank Baum. Much like in his best-known work, “The Wizard of Oz,” Baum brings magic and adventure to the tale of a young Santa Claus. “I’m a huge fantasy fan, and I loved the way Baum intertwined the magical elements into his narrative to tell the story of such an iconic character,” Heitman wrote in an email. “The show doesn’t focus on the Santa Claus we know, it tells the tale of his youth.”

Oz in the News 12.15.20

The Land of Oz Park Brings Out the Inner Child in Everyone “Land of Oz opened in 1970. Debbie Reynold and Carrie Fisher cut the opening ribbon. It was a top-quality experience. It was on par with Disneyland. They had the best of the best, and they had a really successful time period between 1970-1975,” says Land of Oz Artistic Director and Producer, Sean Barrett. After some obstacles and troubling times, the park closed at the end of the 1980 season. Though it was closed for many years, the magic and wonder of the park still touched the hearts of so many that it managed to survive and re-emerge from its ashes years later like a phoenix.

Auctioning Oscar Mayer history Jerry Maren enjoyed his time touring the country in the 1950s in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, except when it broke down. How do you tell a kid that the mighty Wienermobile is kaput? Facing that situation once in San Diego, Maren told the boy, “I put too much mustard on it, and it wouldn’t start.” Maren, who died in 2018, age 98, relates that story in his 2006 memoir, “Short and Sweet.” Maren was popular as the Little Oscar character — a goodwill ambassador for the Madison-based meat production and packing giant — but his real fame dated to 1939, when he played a Munchkin in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz.” And not just any Munchkin. Maren’s character handed Dorothy — played by Judy Garland — a lollipop in appreciation of her tornado-tossed house having squashed the Wicked Witch of the East. Mementos of Maren’s work in Hollywood and for Oscar Mayer are among the highlights of a wide-ranging auction of Oscar Mayer memorabilia currently being conducted online.

Oz in the News 12.14.20

Review: The O.Z. #1 Brings a Devastating War to The Wizard of Oz Author Pepose makes it pretty clear from the jump that despite the original source material inspiration, this is going to be a dark, mature tale and he explores that grimmer subject matter early. That said, Pepose is also aware this is a story full of literal flying monkeys, animate scarecrows, and tin men; this is a war story but it’s one firmly rooted in a fantasy world even if those yellow brick roads and emerald cities are a bit bombed out. Once the story really gets going and Dorothy acclimates to her strange surroundings, there is a lot of fun to be had but, the most unfortunate thing about this opening volume is that it stops just as the going gets really good. Leaving readers wanting more certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world but the volume does come to an abrupt close.

Oz in the News 12.12.20

Wonderful Dizzy is set for release for FREE later this month The Oliver Twins return with a brand new Dizzy adventure for the ZX Spectrum! Wonderful Dizzy is the first brand new, official, Dizzy game to be released in 26 years. Following hot on the heels of some of the most fondly remembered 8 and 16-bit platform puzzlers, this latest instalment in the Dizzy canon is loosely based upon L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wonderful Dizzy is being released for the 128K ZX Spectrum for FREE on 18th December and will be playable both on the original hardware, the ZX Spectrum Next and via emulators on PC and Mac and other platforms. You’ll even be able to play it via your web browser.

Oz in the News 12.6.20

Recasting The Characters Of The Wizard Of Oz (If It Was Made Today) It’s hard to imagine a movie like The Wizard of Oz being released in 2020 as it was such a ground-breaking piece of work in its time. But given how iconic the performances from Judy Garland and the rest of the cast have become, it is fun to think about which currently working actors would be chosen to fill these colorful roles and bring this amazing story to life.

Oz in the News 12.5.20

There’s no place like home This December, award-winning site-responsive and leading digital theatre-makers Creation Theatre present a surreal and anarchic adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with all the storytelling, songs, magic and togetherness that Oxford’s largest producing theatre company’s Christmas shows are traditionally known for. Creation Theatre is Oxfordshire’s largest producing theatre company, specialising in classic texts and unusual locations for over 24 years. In April 2020 the organisation moved swiftly to master the digital stage, to broadcast live performances online via Zoom. Audiences across the globe will be invited to escape reality and journey together to the magical Emerald land; where, along with the Scarecrow, Lion, Tin Man and many more dreamlike characters, they will work together to get Dorothy back home. 28 shows will be performed LIVE online in real-time, across two weeks from the 19 December to 3 January.

Oz in the News 12.4.20

Munchkin mate passing Myrna Swensen, whose smile was familiar to “Wizard of Oz” fans who attended the annual festival in Chesterton for two decades, died at age 94 in Texas on Nov. 23. She was the devoted wife of Clarence Swensen, who played a Munchkin soldier in the 1939 MGM film. He died in February 2009 on Myrna’s 83rd birthday. Clarence — who measured just 4-feet and 1 inch tall — and his wife were favorites of fans. He was always easily recognizable at events since he wore a custom-tailored recreation of the Munchkin soldier suit, a replica of what he wore in the film, including a striped fez-like hat with a large plume. He and his wife, Myrna, who was also a little person but who did not appear in “The Wizard of Oz,” were married in 1945. Three daughters and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren survive the couple.