Monthly Archives: August 2022

Oz in the News 8.29.22

Il Mago di Oz Overall, Valtinoni’s rich and rhythmical score, with its mercurial shifts and balance of opera and musical styling, sets the framework for imaginative theatrical storytelling. Via conductor Chad Kelly’s interpretation, a thoughtfully paced account was served and the 20-strong VO Chamber Orchestra teamed tightly with some affective playing. Many evocative chorus numbers are Incorporated and were especially strongly handled, beginning with auspicious humming over the Kansas tornado, reminiscent of Verdi’s sensational Storm Scene from Rigoletto. Throughout, the dozens of young voices of the VO Emerging Artists and Children’s Chorus fell into line outstandingly, sculpturing a soundscape of great expression and force as a white-dressed chorus of munchkins, mice and citizens of the Emerald City. Solos and pairings combined neatly, including a radiant quartet as the four friends were about to reach the Emerald City to have their wishes heard. It seemed the perfect place to call interval. Instead, the first act came to an anticlimactic close. 

Operatic reimagining of beloved story shows there’s no place like Oz The production leans into the surreal nature of the book that inspired it. The orchestra is centre stage for the entire performance, the action whirling around them like a breeze – or at times a tornado. Chorus members – dressed entirely in white – are deployed to great effect. They are the swelling winds that brought Dorothy to Oz. Projections turn them into sunflowers dotting a field; they become field mice, munchkins, the cult-like citizens of the Emerald City. Throughout the Saturday night performance, the vocals and dialogue suffered from volume issues, but the quality and evenly matched skill of the main cast was readily apparent. Georgia Wilkinson is a sweet and powerful Dorothy, and baritone Stephen Marsh as The Tin Man is a particular highlight. The production is laced with humour – and the surtitles translating the Italian lyrics and dialogue to include the occasional “mate” was well received by the audience.

Oz in the News 8.27.22

Interview: Sean Barrett of THE LAND OF OZ at Autumn At Oz Festival

I hope everyone can forget their troubles (come on, get happy!), and allow themselves to be immersed in the Land of Oz – enjoy seeing the vignette shows along the way, meeting the characters, and seeing the incredible views. The mountain views and natural landscape make it seem as though you really did fly over the rainbow – the park sits 5,506 on the tip top of Beech Mountain. It’s surreal. And skipping on the yellow brick road is a MUST. Our hope and goal is to help continue the legacy of the Wizard of Oz and this very special (former) theme park for future generations while creating memories for those who currently visit the festival each year. The festival has grown so much over the years, and we are so grateful for the continual outpour of love and support. There is a lot of brains, heart, and courage that goes into this event each year, and we are all happy to share this very special place with everyone each season.

Oz in the News 8.26.22

Why “A League of Their Own” goes over the rainbow Why does “A League of Their Own” devote so much of the episode titled “Stealing Home” to the film? The star of the team, Carson (Abbi Jacobson) is from Kansas, has a penchant for gingham, and a running joke on the show is that she’s not actually from a farm. She does show up to tryouts in coveralls that read “Jensen’s Seed” on the back. But the story of the show is a story of Middle America; the teams of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League were all located in the Midwest. I think we have a clear Wizard in this Oz though, and that’s Vi. The owner of the gay bar Carson stumbles into, Vi, as played by Rosie O’Donnell (after her heartbreaking turn as Carrie in “The L Word: Gen Q”) is classy, cool and kind. Pay all attention to this “man behind the curtain” who makes the magic happen for her customers. While she is part of what makes life Technicolor for Carson/Dorothy, like the great and powerful Oz, she brings them home.

Wizard of Oz Exhibit at Bacchus House The exhibit is running through the end of the month. You have 7 days. You’ve been warned. The Bacchus House is located at 1004 E Bidwell St b200, Folsom, CA.  Great food and drinks, excellent service, scary flying monkeys. What more could you ask for? Go check it out.

Oz in the News 8.24.22

Kenya Barris On Who’s Getting Cast For His Upcoming ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Re-Make Online fan-casting has already pegged either Yara Shahidi or Marsai Martin, each of Barris’ young Black-ish starlets, as the new Dorothy. But just who does the production mogul have his eye on to fill the famed ruby slippers? “No one that you would think,” he told ESSENCE exclusively. “I know people feel like they know what we’re going to do, so I want to do something totally different.” However, Barris clarified that he isn’t interested in veering away from audience expectations simply to be contrarian. “Not different for the sake of being different, but for really telling the story in a new, different way.” No release date has yet been announced for Barris’ new Oz, but we can’t wait to see how and with whom this classic story will be told.

Oz in the News 8.21.22

PHOTOS from “The Lost Princess of Oz” The Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) is presenting the World Premiere of Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik’s multi-media dance musical, The Lost Princess of Oz in the Pollak Theater at Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ.  The production runs from Saturday, August 20 to Sunday, August 28 with at 7:30pm with nine performances in all. Photographer John Posada was on hand to take photos. The production serves as a sequel to The Wizard of Oz and was conceived of, and directed and choreographed by Mr. Chajnik, with libretto by Shannon Hill based on two L. Frank Baum classics, The Lost Princess of Oz and Ozma of Oz. It continues the adventures of beloved characters Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, the Lion, Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the Wizard of Oz while introducing new characters including the Frogman, the Patchwork Girl and Tik-Tok. The Lost Princess of Oz follows the group as they search for Princess Ozma to recover the magic stolen from Oz. The cast features Asbury Park’s own chart-topping country duo, Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown of Williams Honor. Mr. Brown plays Frank L. Baum who sits on the stage writing the unfolding tale on his typewriter as it happens on stage. Ms. Richards narrates the tale as “Billina the Talking Hen.” 

The Bright Spot: Over the Rainbow to the Land of Oz This week’s Bright Spot takes us over the rainbow to the Land of Oz high on top of Beech Mountain – one of the highest peaks on the east coast!

Oz in the News 8.18.22

Kenya Barris to go over the rainbow with a Wizard of Oz remake at Warner Bros. For Kenya Barris, there’s no place like home. The Black-ish creator is attached to write and direct a big-screen remake of The Wizard of Oz for Warner Bros., EW has learned. Details on the project are scarce, but according to Deadline Hollywood, which first reported the news, Barris’ take will be “a modern reimagining.” The project will exist alongside the previously announced Wizard of Oz remake from Nicole Kassell (Watchmen) for WB’s New Line division. Barris, who previously wrote the screenplays for Girls Trip and a 2019 remake of Shaft, is currently finishing production on his feature directing debut, You People, for Netflix.

New release is a reminder of Judy Garland’s artistry and vocal prowess Judy Garland’s poignant rendition of “But Not For Me” was the high point of Busby Berkeley’s 1943 version of the 1930 Gershwin musical “Girl Crazy,” not only because she’s in such beautiful voice, but because she seems to be singing completely without artifice. From the very beginning of her career, audiences found Garland so lovable because of her rare emotional honesty. The only film I know in which she actually sings badly is Ziegfeld Girl from 1941, and she does it on purpose. In the story, her father is a retired vaudevillian who coaches her to punch out every song, and she’s awful until she finally follows her own unerring instincts. She demonstrated those instincts in 33 feature films, 30 of them musicals, before her death at the age of 47. This year, the centennial of her birth, Warner Brothers has been reissuing a number of her films in gorgeously restored Blu-rays, joining such previously released classics as “The Wizard Of Oz,” “Meet Me In St. Louis,” “Easter Parade” and “A Star Is Born.” These new additions also reveal that her most exuberant songs were as good as her tender ones because her joy of singing is so genuine as in the title song from her first film with Gene Kelly. It’s his very first movie, and she generously gives him the melody while she sings impeccable harmony.

Oz in the News 8.12.22

In Concert: THE WIZARD OF OZ FANTASY Comes to St. John’s In The Village This Month Renowned concert pianists Donna Weng Friedman and David Oei are celebrating the 83rd anniversary of The Wizard of Oz world premiere and official release by performing a toe-tapping, hum-inducing virtuoso piano duet called The Wizard of Oz Fantasy, written by William Hirtz. The concert will take place on Sunday, August 28, 3pm at St. John’s in the Village located at 218 West 11th Street. If you loved the movie (and who doesn’t?) you won’t want to miss this musical trip down nostalgia lane!

Oz in the News 8.10.22

Wizard of Oz Museum brings immersive movie experience to Brevard County, Florida

Oz in the News 8.9.22

Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater to premiere genre-blending ‘Lost Princess of Oz’ dance musical

When it comes to fairytales, Gabriel Chajnik believes it’s the journey that counts, not the happily-ever-after ending. “Have you ever travelled somewhere to see or meet somebody, or something that’s really important to you, and you don’t really care what kind of obstacles you’re going to meet along the way?” he asks. That, he says, is the core message behind his latest production, “The Lost Princess of Oz.”

The world premiere of the multimedia dance musical choreographed by Chajnik, the founder and director of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, runs Aug. 19-21 and 26-28 at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, in a co-production with the Axelrod Performing Arts Center.

The story, told through Shannon Hill’s libretto, is based on the 11th book from L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” series. It follows the mysterious disappearance of Princess Ozma and the adventures of her closest friends — including Glinda the Good Witch, the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy — on their journey to find the fairy princess and restore the missing magic to Emerald City.

Oz in the News 8.8.22

OZ: A Fantasy Role-Playing Game Announced For September Andrews McMeel Publishing announced their latest TTRPG on the way as we’re getting OZ: A Fantasy Role-Playing Game. This book has been created by Andrew Kolb, the writer and illustrator of Neverland, which took a TTRPG spin on the world of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. This time he tackles another old-school children’s tale as he has created a beautifully illustrated RPG setting book set in the magical land of OZ. Unlike other titles, this one uses an urban setting pointcrawl instead of a hexcrawl, which is littered with secrets for you to uncover as you travel around in underground trains and monorail lines that loop around all four districts of OZ. A hardcover version of the book is set to be released on September 20th for $35.

Amanda Seyfried Auditioned for ‘Wicked’ While Filming ‘The Dropout’ Last summer while I was playing Elizabeth [on “The Dropout”], on the weekends I was auditioning in person to play Glinda in the movie version of “Wicked”—because I wanted it that much that I was like, “You know what? Yeah, I have to play the last scene of ‘The Dropout’ on Tuesday. I’ll give my Sunday to you.” I literally bent over backwards while playing the hardest role of my life. But I think it also taught me how far I’ve come as a singer, which I really wanted to prove. Because ever since “Les Miz,” I was like, I need to be better. I need to do better. So whatever comes next in terms of musicals, I’m finally prepared.

Secret Spots – Dorothy’s House & Land of Oz VIDEO