Category Archives: Oz Music

Oz in the News 1.11.19

Ruby Rakos, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Karen Mason, More Are Part of Chasing Rainbows Workshop An industry presentation of Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, a new musical about the early life of Judy Garland, from her vaudeville sister act through her rise at MGM to win the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, is presented January 10 in New York City. Chasing Rainbows is the first stage, film, or television property about the life of Judy Garland to receive the endorsement of the Garland Estate. The musical utilizes tunes from the Sony Music/Feist Robbins catalog, including “Over the Rainbow,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Everybody Sing,” “In Between,” and “Dear Mr. Gable.” The production was conceived and created by actor, director, and teacher Tina Marie Casamento. Garland historian John Fricke, author of The Wizard of Oz: An Illustrated Companion to the Timeless Classic, is a consultant on the project.

Oz in the News 12.6.18

‘Wizard Of Oz,’ ‘Ben-Hur,’ ‘Shawshank,’ ‘Alien’ And ‘Field Of Dreams’ Headline TCM’s 2019 Classics The 14 movies returning the movie theaters as part of the 2019 TCM Big Screen Classics series have been revealed. The year-long event, in partnership with Fathom Events, gives film fans the chance to revisit, or enjoy for the first time, classic movies on the big screen. The first gem out of the gate in 2019 will be The Wizard of Oz. A critical success on its 1939 release, it actually didn’t make a profit for MGM until the 1949 re-release, earning only $3.02 million at the box office against a budget of $2.8 million – it was the most expensive production ever for the studio at the time. Thanks to various reissues, unadjusted for inflation, it has finally made $23.3 million. The Wizard of Oz will be in select theaters January 27, 29, and 30, 2019.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ secrets you probably haven’t heard “The Wizard of Oz” is still captivating viewers nearly 80 years since it first premiered in theaters. In fact, according to a recent research conducted worldwide, the classic musical has had the most impact in audiences than any other Hollywood masterpiece, including 1960’s “Psycho” and 1977’s “Star Wars.” Historians and collectors Jay Scarfone and William Stillman aren’t surprised by the findings. They’ve written several books on “The Wizard of Oz” and earlier this year they released “The Road to Oz,” which features interviews with several of those involved with the production of the 1939 film and surprising anecdotes from personal archives. The Oz experts spoke with Fox News about some of the surprising facts they found as they researched for their new book

Oz in the News 11.21.18

The Wiz Was So Much More Than a Failed Wizard of Oz BET recently televised The Wiz, and I indulged in a few jazzy minutes. It’s still special when I come across it, even though I have the DVD and can watch it whenever the desire takes hold. There’s still fresh joy in it; seeing the majestic Lena Horne descend from on high as Glinda the Good Witch will always make me feel like an awestruck 7-year-old. Play Stephanie Mills’ signature stage version or Diana Ross’ powerhouse rendition of “Home,” the epic ballad about a safe, soft place where there’s love overflowing, and the inside of my chest swells. Sometimes I even get teary—it reminds me, lyrically and personally, of my mama and my grandmother. I see the whole movie now in a way I couldn’t when I was a child. I still dance, I still sing, but I’m proud of the beauty of Blackness and the legacy of a movie that, like the people who created it, can’t help but be great.

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 10.13.18

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 8.17.18

Somewhere Over the Go-Go One evening about four years ago, Lovail Long and his bunkmate, Salahuddin Mahdi, were working to develop a writing project about their hometown when the 1978 film The Wizcame on TV. “A light bulb came off, and within an hour, we started putting things together,” says Long. And that is how the new musical The Giz, a go-go adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, came to be. Excited by the possibilities, Long recalls, he called his old friend, Backyard Band leader Anwan “Big G” Glover, and with Big G’s encouragement, Long and Mahdi decided to move forward with the venture. The Giz will be performed on August 19 at the MGM National Harbor; Long plans to take it on the road and eventually mount a longer local run. Its ruby red slippers planted firmly in the DMV, The Giz celebrates go-go culture with a cast that features several of the music’s luminaries, including EU’s Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliott as The Giz, a role originally written for Chuck Brown. Despite its title, The Giz was inspired more by Victor Fleming’s 1939 The Wizard of Ozfilm than by any productions of The Wiz. The new musical relates the adventure of 18-year-old Dottie, who lives in North Carolina with her maternal grandparents and yearns to attend Howard University. Dottie, who just might be Chuck Brown’s daughter, is taking out the trash when a well-timed storm whisks her away to Munchkin Land, right by the D.C. border of Prince George’s County.