Category Archives: Oz Music

Oz in the News 3.21.21

Brand New Day In an interview from 1977, Ben Harney, who played the Tin Man in the Broadway production of The Wiz, said that ‘for the first time in a long time people were getting Black theatre that wasn’t hitting them over the head with anger and militancy. This was a show that had universality, and it was fun.’ But after the film was released, white writers compared it to the so-called ‘militant’ productions of the era. Charles Champlin complained in his review that Lumet had directed the film ‘as if it were Roots instead of a musical fantasy film with (new) satiric overtones’. In truth the film fuses both sensibilities, and it’s this that made it unwieldy and hard to classify. That the more strident Roots was a TV sensation and became a cultural phenomenon, while The Wiz failed horribly, says something about the public lack of appetite for subtlety or complexity in Black productions. ‘That music – maybe you’d call it “sophisticated funk” – is a combination of all the music I ever knew,’ Charlie Smalls told the LA Times in 1976. ‘I wrote it all from my heart. The lyrics – they’re my life story – I became the characters to create the characters. I used everything that happened to me on my way here. And believe me, some of it wasn’t so good before it got turned into a song.’

Oz in the News 3.7.21

IZ’s iconic ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ hits 1B views on YouTube The song reached national and international fame after Kamakawiwaole released his 1993 album, “Facing Future.” The album was released just four years before his death at the age of 38. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” became a staple of Hawaii music when IZ gave an island twist to Louis Armstrong’s classic, “What a Wonderful World.” Kamakawiwaole had originally recorded a cover of “What a Wonderful World” on his Ka Anoi CD, which was released in 1990. Unlike the soft, simple and bittersweet melody of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that is known worldwide, the 1990 cover is more upbeat. The stripped down composition of the song in his “Facing Future” album showcased his effortless voice and signature ukulele. All these years later, Kamakawiwaole’s legacy continues to live on as the song is played and loved by listeners across the globe. One of the top comments on the YouTube video said, “He is not dead. He is somewhere over the rainbow.”

Oz in the News 10.6.20

Wicked Cast Reminds Fans to Vote with Reimagined Lyrics in New Video: ‘You Can Change Things’ In a new video, which PEOPLE can exclusively share, the entire cast of Wicked comes together (virtually) to remind fans to cast their ballot this November — and it features cameos from Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel! “I’m all mixelated up!” sings Brittney Johnson, the first-ever Black actress to play Wicked‘s Glinda, in the music video. “I really want to vote but it’s confusifying me.” The nearly-four minute video features appearances from some of the musical’s biggest stars including Alexandra Billings, Lindsay Pearce, Jennafer Newberry and Konrad Adderley.

Oz in the News 9.9.20

Wicked’ star headlines Kravis Center’s socially distanced video of ‘Over the Rainbow’ Talia Suskauer, who plays Elphaba in the tour scheduled to visit the Kravis Center in February, had a chance to put her stamp on the song in the Kravis Center’s remotely produced video of the song. The video highlights Suskauer and features 44 other singers and instrumentalists. You can watch it for free at Michael Feinstein, impresario of the Kravis Center’s pops orchestra series, introduces the video. Suskauer begins the song with its less familiar opening verse. Then members of the Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, The Broadway Artists Intensive, DeGeorge Academy for Performing Arts, Dreyfoos School of the Arts alumni and members of the Kravis Center Pops Orchestra chime in.

Oz in the News 9.3.20

Timothy Graphenreed Dies: ‘The Wiz’ Song Composer Was 68 Chiefly composed by Charlie Smalls, with a book by William F. Brown, The Wiz included several musical numbers by others, including Graphenreed, who wrote, with George Faison, the dance numbers “Emerald City Ballet (Pssst)” and, with Harold Wheeler, “Tornado.” Graphenreed also did the dance arrangements for the musical. (The Luther Vandross composition “Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day” was performed in both the Broadway and film versions; the Graphenreed numbers were not included in the film, directed by Sidney Lumet with a cast headed by Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.) As an accompanist and/or musical arranger, Graphenreed collaborated with performers including White, LaChanze, Jennifer Holliday, Phylicia Rashad, Melba Moore, Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford, Darlene Love, Morgan Freeman, Ben Vereen and Peobo Bryson, among many others.

Online gala offers locals an escape from a drab reality to the Emerald City  Just in time for Halloween, The Source LGBT+ Center will be holding an online fundraising gala on Oct. 17. Themed “Escape to Oz,” guests of the gala will be emailed a link for the live “secret” broadcast, and the event will be available to the public the next day on Facebook, at The Source’s page Event details are at Follow the yellow brick road for an evening to somewhere fantastic, including catered food, drinks, music, prizes, surprise celebrities, live entertainment, auctions, Halloween contests, and Oz-themed escape room puzzles all from the comfort of your own home. Those interested in participating in the online event can register to raise funds as an individual or as part of a team. Reach a minimum of $125 per person and you’re off to see the Wizard at the “gayla.” Keep fundraising to earn even more amazing prizes and other “little pretties!” Sign up by clicking here:

Oz in the News 7.3.20

Eva Noblezada, Nathan Lee Graham, George Salazar, More Set for Night of a Thousand Judys Virtual Concert The eighth annual Night of A Thousand Judys, a Pride concert benefiting The Ali Forney Center, will take place as a streaming online event July 14 at 8 PM. Written and hosted by Justin Sayre, the evening will include Tony winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), MAC winner Natalie Douglas, Tony nominee Eva Noblezada (Hadestown), Nathan Lee Graham (Zoolander), Tony nominee Adam Pascal (Rent), Tony nominee Beth Malone (Fun Home), Tony winner Alice Ripley (Next to Normal), George Salazar (Be More Chill), Ann Harada (Avenue Q), T. Oliver Reid (Hadestown), Jessica Vosk (Wicked), Spencer Day, and Bright Light Bright Light.The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest agency dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ homeless youth. Watch the concert and donate to the cause at

Dorothy Blazes New Trails In Grand Rapids MN Hometown Of Judy Garland This summer follow along with Visit Grand Rapids new campaign, Dorothy Blazes New Trails. While we know there is “no place like home”, we also know that people are feeling cooped up at home and want to get out to explore and seek safe places to find new adventure. This campaign will feature Dorothy (played by actress, Chelsey Johnson) and her black lab side kick, Tioga exploring Grand Rapids, MN – the home of Judy Garland (aka Frances Ethel Gumm). Each week the campaign will highlight safe and fun places to seek outdoor adventure, places to shop, places to dine, and places to stay. Follow along with the Dorothy Blazes New Trails each week on Visit Grand Rapids social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Visit Grand Rapids will do weekly featuring images of Dorothy, her trusty side kick, Tioga will be featured at iconic outdoor locations in the Grand Rapids. Dorothy will be joined by her Wizard of Oz Friends (tin man, scarecrow and the cowardly lion) in the coming weeks. The friends (real-life people that represent these Wizard of Oz characters) will head out on adventure together, while enjoying safe social distancing. In July Visit Grand Rapids will partner with area businesses and launch a Dorothy Blazes New Trails Contest where daily clues will be given and daily prizes will be awarded. There will be a designated Contest page on where people will be sent for photo clues of Dorothy and her friends at different outdoor locations, area attractions, businesses and places to eat & drink. Each day people will be asked to comment on Facebook and Instagram of the clues location and then at the end of the day Visit Grand Rapids staff will randomly draw a winner from those people whose comment was correct.

Talents of local voice actor recognized Georgia Craven recently received a Best Leading Actress nomination for The Audio Theatre Central Seneca Awards for her role as Dorothy Gale in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Craven is a Grade 12 student at Chatham-Kent Secondary School and has extensive experience in stage performing. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, however, marks Craven’s first lead part in an audio theatre production. In addition to the dialogue she had to read, Craven also had to perform two original songs as part of the production. The production was put on by Chatham’s Voices in the Wind Audio Theatre, which adapts popular literature works into full-cast audio productions using only voice actors and sound effects. Voices of the Wind Audio Theatre also received a nomination for Best Cover Art for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The winners will be announced in a live-stream broadcast on July 24 at 10 p.m. Snippets of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are available on the Voices of the Wind Audio Theatre website and the complete 90-minute production is available for purchase on



Oz in the News 5.16.20

‘WICKED’ Interested In Lili Reinhart and Dove Cameron For Glinda The Good Witch Earlier this week we got some exciting news that Wicked director Stephen Daldry was looking at Imelda Staunton for the role of Madame Morrible. There still has been no confirmation that any talks have happened or if an offer has been made. I will add that a recent Production Weekly listing does back up our report that Imelda is a person of interest. Their listing also indicates filming is expected to being in January 2021 in London, New York and Los Angeles. With the current pandemic though all production dates should be taken with a grain of salt. The film was already pushed from its 2021 release date so a 2022 release date would be most likely. Some more exciting news that we have heard but I cannot verify further so also take this news with a grain of salt is that casting is ramping up. We have been told from a reliable source but again this is just a rumor for now, producers are interested in Dove Cameron and Lili Reinhart for the role of Galinda/Glinda the Good Witch. Lili is currently attached to the hit CW series, Riverdale and Dove is known for her role as Mal in the Descendants film series. Dove has been fancast and rumored for the movie for some time but our source hears that she is a legitimate contender for a role in the movie.

Oz in the News 5.13.20

Virtual Wizard of Oz Con The first of its kind “Virtual Wizard of Oz Con,” celebrating all aspects of Oz, with a star-studded evening benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. All in one night, Film Critic and Oz Historian Ryan Jay interviews some of the greatest celebrities ever to have entered the Emerald City. From “Wicked” to “The Wiz,” don’t miss this unique chance to “Return to Oz” and gain exclusive access behind the curtain of your favorite Ozzy adaptations. Those who reserve tickets now will have the chance to submit questions in advance! *Featuring*:Kari Wahlgren (voice of Dorothy/Queen Ozma, Boomerang’s Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, Jessica in Rick & Morty, Zatanna in DC Superhero Girls), Todrick Hall (Straight Outta Oz, Broadway’s Kinky Boots, Chicago, Waitress), Gregory Maguire (Author, WICKED), Rob Paulsen (voice of the Tin Man in Tom & Jerry The Wizard of Oz and Back to Oz, Pinky in Pinky and the Brain, Yakko in Animaniacs), Shanice Williams (Dorothy, NBC’s The Wiz Live, Perfect Harmony), Emma Ridley (Ozma, Disney’s Return to Oz), Danielle Paige (Author, Dorothy Must Die) and more!

13 ON YOUR SIDE wins Regional Murrow award for ‘Origin of Oz’ series  The series highlights how West Michigan played a role in L. Frank Baum’s legendary book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The four part series aired as a half hour special last year.

Oz in the News 5.6.20

Marilyn Manson Wants to Record a Judy Garland Song With Brandi Carlile Marilyn Manson has shown an affinity for ear-catching covers over the years, and it appears as though he’s interesting in teaming up with Brandi Carlile on the Judy Garland classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Carlile revealed the potential pairing during an appearance on Zane Lowe’s Apple Music show. “Marilyn Manson wants to record ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ with me,” said Carlile. “He’s been texting me about it.” She went on to reveal that Manson previously came to watch her play a Joni Mitchell tribute show in which she performed all of Mitchell’s Blue album. “He came, and he cried so hard,” recalled Carlile. “He had all his makeup down his face, and turns out he’s the biggest Joni Mitchell fan on the face of the planet.” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” initially came to fame as sung by Judy Garland in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. Reflecting on Garland, an LGBTQ icon, Carlile stated, “Judy Garland just makes me smile. Just to me, she’s everything gay. Just everything. When I listen to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ I feel happy but I don’t feel happy in contrast or contrary to the way I’m naturally feeling. I just feel like I can maybe have a daydream.”

Read More: Marilyn Manson Wants to Cover Judy Garland With Brandi Carlile |

Oz in the News 4.9.20

Wicked the film adaptation still on track according to the composer Stephen Schwartz Originally scheduled for December 22, 2021, the release date for WICKED has been postponed due to the global pandemic of sars coronavirus. The composer Stephen Schwartz wants to be reassuring as to the slowdown expected in the production of the film adaptation of the famous Broadway musical, directed by the British filmmaker Stephen Daldry. “Significant progress has been made both at the level of the writing of the pre-production “, “he explains. “I can’t tell you more for the moment, but we are on the right track “. The studio has not yet announced the new release date forecast, but Stephen Schwartz is being optimistic. “I can’t predict the date at which the shooting will begin. But the project is still in progress “he continued.