Category Archives: Oz Theatre

Oz in the News 11.15.18

There’s no place like home for ‘Ruby Slippers’ production “Ruby Slippers,” a creative collaboration through the University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance Department, explores what happened the night Judy Garland’s ruby slippers were stolen from a museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The production will run Nov. 19 and 20. “I was trying to find a new story to develop and I did a Google search of the three … oddest things … that have happened [in Minnesota], and up pops this article about these ruby slippers that were stolen from the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 2005,” said Luverne Seifert, the director of the show and a senior teaching specialist in the theatre arts and dance department. And so the idea for “Ruby Slippers” was born. The collaborators had six weeks to write the show and then six weeks to stage it. They drew heavily from the film “The Wizard of Oz,” as well as the TV series “Fargo” because of its focus on mystery and crime in Minnesota. They also tried to capture the grief of the community in Grand Rapids, like dialogue from an email written by a woman in Grand Rapids who was angry over the stolen slippers.

Oz in the News Alert: 20% Off Wonderful Winter of Oz Tickets & Trivia Contest!!!

Lythgoe Family Panto presents “The Wonderful Winter of Oz” live on stage at The Pasadena Civic, December 15 – 30, 2018.

This holiday season, take the whole family to see “The Wonderful Winter of Oz,” featuring Kermit the Frog® live on stage as the Powerful Wizard, Mackenzie Ziegler (Dancing with the Stars: Juniors and Dance Moms) as Dorothy, Tony Award-winner Marissa Jaret Winokur (Hairspray) as Glinda, Phil LaMarr (Mad TV) as The Tin Man, and Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon) as The Scarecrow.

This show is in the format of British Panto, featuring a modern, holiday version of the classic fairytale with pop music, “So You Think You Can Dance” alumni, comedy, audience participation, family-friendly magic and more!

Don’t miss the FREE Winter Wonderland experience one hour before each show in the lobby.

“The Wonderful Winter of Oz” is produced by Lythgoe Family Panto, known for their productions of “A Cinderella Christmas” starring Lauren Taylor, “Sleeping Beauty And Her Winter Knight” starring Olivia Holt, and “A Snow White Christmas” starring Ariana Grande.

Save 20% on tickets with code OZ20.

Visit: or call the box office at (626) 449 – 7360.

To win a family four pack of tickets to the show, answer this trivia question: What Oz themed hit song did Kermit the Frog record in 1979?  Email your answer to   One winner will be chosen randomly from correct responses. Contest ends at midnight on November 30th.

Oz in the News 10.31.18

We’re Off to See the Wizard! 7 Little Johnstons Family Unveils Wizard of Oz Halloween Costumes The 7 Little Johnstons family is not in Kansas anymore. Amber and Trent Johnston and their children Jonah, Anna, Elizabeth, Alex and Emma drew inspiration from The Wizard of Oz for their colorful Halloween costumes. Each family member took on a different role — including Dorothy in her blue gingham dress, the cowardly lion with an adorable mane, the tinman with his own special heart, the scarecrow with cute patches, Glinda with a regal wand, the Wicked Witch of the West in green face paint and the titular wizard in a top hat. The family even decked out the lawn with a decorative house plopped on the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet, a yellow brick road and the emerald gates of Oz.

Where Are the Original Cast Members of Broadway’s Wicked Now? For 15 years, Wicked has welcomed theatregoers to Oz. The musical spectacle features a star-studded cast singing Stephen Schwartz’s fantastical score, which has led to record-breaking grosses. (The Broadway production has broken the Gerswhin house record 24 times during its run.) A prequel to L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz based on the Gregory Maguire novel, the show focuses on the rivalry-turned-friendship between Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda as classmates at Shiz University long before Dorothy’s arrival in Oz. Broadway has been changed for good since the opening of Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre in 2003, but what have the leading players of the show been up to since their departures?


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 10.7.18

He’s loved  Wizard of Oz’ his whole life. Now he’s made it a ballet premiering in KC “Until the age of 12, I grew up on a small island in the Bahamas. It was a very small and tight community. There was no television, so we spent a lot of time on the beach building fantasy sand castles and reading books. The ‘Wizard of Oz’ series was one of our favorites. So I knew the books very well and about once year, we’d see the film. The story and the characters always captivated our imagination.” When he was 12, Webre and his family moved to south Texas. Webre recalled when he and his siblings crossed the border to Mexico and purchased a whole suite of Mexican puppets for 99 cents each. “There was borracho the drunkard, the bandito, the sexy woman,” Webre said. “We spent the summer recostuming them in the most extravagant way. We built a puppet house and painted about five backdrops, and we put together about a 30-minute production of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It was actually quite professional. We toured it for a summer to nursing homes and orphanages and church bazaars throughout south Texas. It was very Von Trapp Family.”

Thousands expected for “Oztoberfest” in Wamego The annual Wizard of Oz festival, Oztoberfest, kicks off Saturday in downtown Wamego. This year’s event includes a costume contest, classic car show, barbeque cook off and a beer garden, all based around The Wizard of Oz. “Whether you’re 80 years old or you’re eight years old, there’s something you’re going to connect with with the Wizard of Oz,” said Daryn Solden with the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce. “A festival based around Oz with all the activities for the whole family, that’s really something people can buy into.”