Monthly Archives: April 2021


Oz in the News 4.29.21

Oz in the News 4.28.21

Oz in the News 4.22.21

City exploring new phases for Oz Plaza After the rousing success Oconomowoc experienced as part of the 80th celebration of “The Wizard of Oz” and the city’s new Oz Plaza in 2019, city staff and the Common Council are aiming to take Oz Plaza a few steps further to enhance the tourist attraction. As part of the 80th celebration, Oz Plaza — which is located in the alley way between City Hall and Grill 164 — was installed complete with seven statues of characters and a yellow brick road. But given the popularity of Oz Plaza, Oconomowoc Planner Kristi Weber has spearheaded an effort to breathe life into the rest of the area given the surrounding landscape isn’t as eye appealing as the city would like. Currently the backdrop consists of Grill 164’s patio, a tree which was damaged in 2019, an electrical box and garbage dumpsters. The entire project is on city property as the city currently rents the patio space to Grill 164.

In an effort to beautify the area, Weber proposed the following efforts at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting:

■ Extending the yellow brick road pathway to go back to the rear of the plaza. Over the pathway would be strung lights to illuminate the pathway.

■ Offer open community rainbow seating where citizens can hang out in colorful chairs and tables — akin to Madison’s Union Terrace set up.

■ A green art wall where plants would grow to create an art piece.

■ Updates to Dorothy via an airbrush artist.

■ A trellis at the rear entrance to the alley as a gateway to the plaza that would have colored glass panes that would shine a rainbow on the ground when the sun hits it.

■ A “poppy screen” that would separate the characters from those enjoying the community seating.

■ An upper deck community seating area that would go on top of the old police department garage.

It should be noted that the project is in its infancy design wise and it’s possible not all aspects — such as the upper deck — may be used in final build out of the updated plaza. In addition — separately from the Oz Plaza project — there was a mural approved by the Tourism Commission this week that would go on Grill 164’s wall.

Oz in the News 4.21.21

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW ROOM – COCKTAILS IN OZ As my friend pointed out to me, Kansas is a place of surprising beauty and comfort. Oz may be vibrant and exciting and colorful, but Dorothy just wants to get back home to Kansas. It is where her heart is. So, the challenge is how to make a drink that is grey enough to satisfy Mr. Baum, but comforting and delicious enough to mollify my steely-eyed Kansan friend. The answer, as it so often is, is Mexican food – in this case horchata, a rice-milk-based street drink. If you haven’t had horchata before, it is lightly sweet, cinnamonny, and deeply comforting – in much the same way that Kansas is to Dorothy (and to my friend). In this case, I have substituted black rice for the usual long grain, white rice.

Oz in the News 4.20.21

The Life And Times Of ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Creator L. Frank Baum Before the world got its first glimpse of the Land of Oz, its creator, L. Frank Baum, was already a storyteller. First performing as an actor, he then created compelling marketing materials for his father’s oil enterprise and ultimately waxed poetic to his own children at home, as well as the children of others through his wondrous retail operation on the American frontier. Producers, writers and directors Tracy Heather Strain and Randall MacLowry join Cincinnati Edition to talk about Baum and the episode.

Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation to host virtual event around new PBS film about ‘Wizard of Oz’ writer Following the premier the night before of “American Oz,” a new documentary about Central New York native L. Frank Baum, the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the Gage Center will hold a Zoom Q&A with filmmakers Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heater Strain, who together wrote, directed and produced the film for PBS’ “American Experience” series. Tickets to the virtual event cost $25 and can be purchased by calling the Gage Center at 315-637-9511 with a credit card, or directly through their online gift shop at All proceeds will benefit the Gage Foundation. “American Oz” will debut on Monday, April 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS and will be available for streaming at

UW Professors Provide Narration for ‘American Oz’ Program About L. Frank Baum Susan Aronstein and Kent Drummond, both in the UW Department of English, are two of the narrators for this documentary, which explores the life of Baum, best known as the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was published in 1900. The book spawned the classic 1939 MGM film “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland, as well as plays and musicals, including 2003’s “Wicked.” The two, along with Terri Rittenburg, a UW professor emeritus of management and marketing, wrote “The Road to Wicked: The Marketing and Consumption of Oz from L. Frank Baum to Broadway,” which was published in 2018. Both Aronstein and Drummond feel it is a great honor to have been chosen to help narrate the episode, and they hope the documentary will lead to a whole new audience for Baum, his works and books about his works. “We’re still not sure how the producers of ‘American Oz’ heard about our book. Of course, in order to write a book about the staying power of Oz, we had to delve into Baum’s life and work,” says Aronstein, a UW professor of English. “And the first several chapters deal directly with him. So, when the opportunity came to convey our research in a new medium, we jumped at the chance. We really enjoyed working with the producers — Randall MacLowry and Rebecca Taylor — and it was fascinating to observe the documentary take shape.”

‘The Munchkin Diary’: Sonoma author recalls her ‘Oz’ days, TV career She’s a former child “Munchkin” who followed her own yellow brick road from Hollywood to Stanford University, a stint with the CIA, a role as a social activist in Oakland and an extraordinary 22-year career in Bay Area television. Bruno, 89, somehow packed those and many other experiences into “The Munchkin Diary,” a rollicking memoir that not only tracks her many adventures, but is testament to her relentless energy and passion for life. “I have never been bored,” insists Bruno, who spends much of her time these days performing and teaching hula. “I’m wholeheartedly, 150 percent into whatever I’m doing. Once in a while when I get into a state of exhaustion, I say to myself: ‘I would like to know what’s like to be bored — to sit on the front porch and swat flies.’”

The Black Rainbow of Oz The sequel to “A Nightmare in Oz” has been released! “The Black Rainbow of Oz,” the much-anticipated follow-up to last year’s first entry into the New Oz Chronicles, is now available for purchase in Paperback and Digital through What is to come of the mischievous Mombi as she ventures through the North securing a host of henchmen on her trek to release the fabled Black Rainbow? What will be the response of Glinda, Ozma, Dorothy and their closest allies as news spreads of the terrible plot? Sides clash in the latest entry to a new series of stories set in present-day Oz, involving all the characters you love (along with some new faces) as they confront that which they hoped never to confront: the threat of very real dangers.

Oz in the News 4.15.21

Watch Scenes From New Korean Production of Wicked The international hit Wicked has opened in Seoul, playing at the Blue Square Theatre until May 2. Following that run, it will move to the Dream Theatre in Busan, with first performance on May 20. With two casts, here are clips from the production.

The first cast features Ock Joo Hyun as Elphaba, Jeong Sun Ah as Glinda, Sea Kyoung Su as Fiyero, Nam Kyoung Joo as the Wizard, and Lee So You as Madame Horrible. The second cast includes Son Seung Yeon as Elphaba, Na Ha Na as Glinda, Jin Tae Hwa as Fiyero, Lee Sang Jun as the Wizard, and Kim Ji Sun as Madame Morrible.

Oz in the News 4.14.21

Tinbots All of EvOz is buzzing with excitement! Everyone is talking about just one thing: after a ten year hiatus, THE EMERALD CITY, the legendary TINBOT factory, is about to begin production again! What’s more, the factory’s owner-inventors, known as WIZARDS, have announced the biggest TINBATTLE competition EvOz has ever seen: THE YELLOW BRICK CHALLENGE! For Dorothy, Leon, and Rusty, this is a dream come true: a chance to prove themselves as well as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the famous Emerald City! Along with their tinbots, OZMA and SCAREBOT, our three heroes will follow the famous Yellow Brick Road, eager to face even the most intimidating adversaries. For the ultimate grand prize is the chance to enter the celebrated factory itself, The Emerald City, and, even more importantly, the opportunity to meet its all-powerful owner-inventors: the mysterious WIZARDS!

Oz in the News 4.13.21

Wicked: Anna Kendrick Responds to Amanda Seyfried’s Idea They Star in Movie E! News asked Kendrick her thoughts on Seyfried’s idea, but she was unable to give a definitive answer. “Oh, these questions are always tricky to answer, to not create a thing,” she said. “I mean, obviously like, Wicked is a masterpiece and a classic and it’s an iconic show and that’s all I’ll say about that.” Kendrick didn’t realize Seyfried had publicly named her in relation to Elphaba’s casting. Kendrick’s full comment: “That’s so funny. I hadn’t heard that, but I, when I met her in real life, she said that to me. So I was like, what are you, eavesdropping on that conversation? I didn’t know that she’d said that…So she didn’t just say it to my face to be nice.”

Oz in the News 4.5.21

American Oz Explore the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of one of the most beloved, enduring and classic American narratives. By 1900, when The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published, Baum was 44 years old and had spent much of his life in restless pursuit of success. With mixed results he dove into a string of jobs — chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman and traveling salesman — Baum continued to reinvent himself, reflecting a uniquely American brand of confidence, imagination and innovation. During his travels to the Great Plains and on to Chicago during the American frontier’s final days, he witnessed a nation coming to terms with the economic uncertainty of the Gilded Age. But he never lost his childlike sense of wonder and eventually crafted his observations into a magical tale of survival, adventure and self-discovery, reinterpreted through the generations in films, books and musicals.