Category Archives: Oz Theatre

Oz in the News 2.19.18

‘Wazir of Oz’ enchants and ensnares with a new twist on a classic tale Alumna Susan Gayle Todd is bringing the bedtime stories her husband told their children to life on stage. Written by Todd, “The Wazir of Oz” takes the classic narrative of “The Wizard of Oz,” and gives the production a Bollywood spin. “The Wazir of Oz,” is a collaborative effort between Todd and Austin-based Bollywood cover band Sacred Cowgirls. Pauravi Rana, the band’s keyboardist, said the music used for shows such as this one is taken from older Bollywood music and made appropriate for children’s theater. “The show feels a little bit like a musical, people are breaking out into dance and sometimes into song,” Rana said. “They sing for one of them from the stage, which is a real feat. We don’t play the whole time, but we try to reflect the mood of what’s going on with some of the pieces.” The cast of “The Wazir of Oz” is a South Asian majority. Todd said this was done to give the story authenticity, as well as provide an opportunity for children to learn about a culture they may not have been exposed to. The play also provides an opportunity for parents with Indian heritage to see themselves represented on stage, said Minnie Homchowdhury, who plays Pratima, the stone woman who believes herself heartless. Her role is analogous to the tin man in the original “Wizard of Oz,” whose only wish in the world is to have a heart.


Oz in the News 2.8.18

Review: THE PHANTOM OF OZ by Cindy Brown In the tradition of Brown’s previous ‘Ivyntures’, the book is a clever mash-up of stage classics. This time THE WIZARD OF OZ meets THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, with a dash of THE WOMAN IN WHITE thrown in for ghostly good measure. Could there be more familiar stage tropes than these classics? WIZARD is currently represented on Broadway by WICKED, while PHANTOM has just entered its third decade on the Great White Way. Both are rooted in century old fantasy fiction, so it is fitting that Brown returns them to the page – with her own Phoenician flair, of course. Oz was a green planet and Dorothy’s house had been pulled into space through some tornado time warp. The Cowardly Lion looked like a Wookie, the Scarecrow had a sort of big-headed E.T. quality, the Tin Man was based on Marvin, the depressed robot from THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, and the Darryl Hannah replicant character from BLADE RUNNER inspired the look for both the Wicked Witches. Glinda was costumed like one of the babes Captain Kirk was always kissing on the original STAR TREK, and the Wizard wasn’t a cast member at all, just a projection.”

The Dressing Room Podcast In this episode, Tom chats to Jemma Rix – currently starring as “The Wicked Witch of The West” in The Wizard Of Oz, touring all around Australia! Find out how it’s different playing The Wicked Witch in Wizard, Versus Elphaba in Wicked [she’s done both!] 

Oz in the News 1.27.18

Book a Trip to See Literary Maps Should your travels bring you to Cambridge, Massachusetts, this spring, chart a path toward Harvard’s Houghton Library, where Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration opened last week. Curated by Peter X. Accardo, the exhibition showcases sixty literary maps that bring to life such imagined places as More’s Utopia and Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. Included is Professor Wogglebug’s Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz, attributed to L. Frank Baum. From: L. Frank Baum, Tik-Tok of Oz (Chicago, 1914). “This first printed map of the Marvelous Land of Oz presents its four counties in their official colors, but reverses the position of Munchkin and Winkie Counties. The inconsistency is also reflected by the map’s compass points, where East unusually is to the West, and West is to the East.” Credit: Houghton Library, Typ 970.14.1955 – Presented in honor of Dennis C. Marnon, 2018.

Alumni bring Oz collection to Fort Hays State Fort Hays State University alumni Larry and Lyn Fenwick, Macksville, are sharing their collection of Wizard of Oz artifacts with the Hays community. The Fenwick Oz Collection is now available for viewing through Friday, March 16, on the main floor of Fort Hays State University’s Forsyth Library. The collection features rare and unique Wizard of Oz artifacts that match author L. Frank Baum’s vision for the land of Oz and that explore details of the well-loved Kansas story. Characters displayed in the collection are consistent with descriptions given in the book and honor Baum’s original ideas. An exhibit viewing and reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, in Forsyth Library. The Fenwicks will present briefly at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Garland in Word and Song Opens Tonight at the Willow Theatre When Judy Garland stepped out onto the stage at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961, the raucous standing ovation that greeted her was just the start of what has been called “the greatest night in show business history.” Actress/singer Jody Briskey portrays Garland and recreates that night’s iconic performance at The Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton, Florida, January 26 – February 11, 2018.

Oz in the News 1.17.18

Why Did The Good Place Hide So Many Wizard of Oz References in Last Week’s Episode? A decade ago, Lost fans went a little batty with Oz-related theorizing, guessing that the show would end with a twist ripped straight from L. Frank Baum and the Yellow Brick Road. Very few of those bets paid off. Still, because Schur is a Lost fan himself, and because The Good Place has made a habit of springing its own “everything you know is wrong” surprises, it wouldn’t be completely out of line to think that the Wizard of Oz parallels in “Best Self” are some kind of larger clue to where the show might be headed. Like: Will Eleanor Shellstrop wake up in the series finale and find herself back in Arizona, living around people who look like Janet, Chidi, Jason, Michael, and Tahani? While we break out the scratch paper to get busy postulating, here’s a handy reminder of just how Wizard of Oz–like “Best Self” actually is. Some of these references are overt, some more subtle, and some, to be honest, probably unintentional. They’re all collected from the vaguest Oz nod to the strongest.

UMS Adds Free Performance And Livestream To U.S. Premiere Of FK Alexander’s OVER THE RAINBOW The University Musical Society (UMS) of the University of Michigan will add a free performance of Glasgow-based performance artist FK Alexander’s (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7 pm. This special performance, which will last about an hour, will be streamed at and via Facebook Live at Tickets for the free, in-person experience will be distributed via lottery at UMS will also host a livestream viewing party at Light Box Performance Space in Detroit (8641 Linwood Street). Admission to the viewing party is free and open to the public. FK Alexander’s sonically immersive production of (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow will run from Friday, January 26 through Saturday, February 3 in the Stamps Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor (201 S. Division Street). The production receives its U.S. premiere with these performances and is not currently scheduled to be seen anywhere else in the country this year.

Oz in the News 1.5.18

Celebrities walk the yellow brick road It was the first red carpet event of the year, only it wasn’t red. Appropriately for the opening night of The Wizard Of Oz, producers organised a one-off yellow brick road carpet at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. Stars of film, television and the stage flocked to the theatre to be among the first in town to see the musical production that is based on the 1939 movie classic with five new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber. “It is colourful, it is loud, it is brash, it is wonderful, warm and funny,” producer John Frost said of the show. “It has got all of those things and I think it is an appropriate time for it to return to Sydney.” The production, which was first staged at the London Palladium in 2011, sees an all-star musical cast in lead roles. Samantha Dodemaide is Dorothy, while Lucy Durack plays Glinda the Good Witch and Jemma Rix is The Wicked Witch of the West.

Oz in the News 1.3.18

Sneak Peek of “The Wiz” Decadent Costumes and Interview with Designer Mathew LeFebvre Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre are teaming up to bring The Wiz to the stage in all its spectacular decadence beginning January 23, 2018. The production, set in New York City, features original costume designs by Mathew LeFebvre that will be worn by our all-star cast. Read the interview below and take a look at these costume sketches to give you a glimpse of what awaits in January!  “Much of my visual research was from New York City and Harlem and we incorporated some ubiquitous elements into some of the designs. For example, the Lion wears Timberland inspired boots and a puffy vest, and the Scarecrow wears an old Adidas track suit. The Citizens of Oz are all based on residents of Harlem, but they will all be dressed in green.” Excited to see these designs come to life? Get your tickets to The Wiz today, running January 23 through March 18, 2018!

Oz in the News 12.28.17

Matilda Joslyn Gage opera to premiere next month in Syracuse The world premiere of the opera, “Pushed Aside: Reclaiming Gage,” is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at the Carrier Theater, Civic Center, Syracuse. Witness the story of Matilda Joslyn Gage, the lesser known third member of the “triumvirate” of early women’s suffragists — the other two being Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The opera tells how they came together in the early 1850s then had their great split in 1890, resulting in Matilda being “pushed aside,” and right out of the history books. Along the way, we also discover how Matilda fought for others who had been pushed aside, including African-Americans and Native Americans, and how she came to believe that all freedom struggles are equal and interconnected. This opera tells the story of a woman of courage and integrity publicly defying 19th century laws that forced complicity with slavery and denied women their autonomy and liberty and the right to vote. This story shines a light on a remarkable corner of the world known as Central New York that became a hub of free thought and radical activism for ending slavery and promoting Native American rights as well as social justice. Several in the cast are CNY natives who have performed nationally and internationally. Buffalo native Steven Stull plays Maud Gage Baum and L. Frank Baum, respectively, in scenes that open and close the opera, scenes that frame the action. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors and are available via paypal at, or call the Society at 315-251-1151.