Wamego #59 Nov 6, 2015



 [Above: John R. Neill’s glorious artwork dominates the cover of the fifth OZ book, THE ROAD TO OZ – along with a colorized Neill illustration from a later edition of the story, as Santa Claus himself toasts the royal Princess Ozma on her birthday.]

There’s a lot of news to cover, especially as the next blog I offer in this series will appear subsequent to a major Oz events. And we don’t want anyone to miss out -- so here goes!

Mark your calendars NOW for December 3rd. That’s when NBC presents its 2015 contribution to the now-annual tradition of a “live” telecast of a classic Broadway musical -- begun two seasons ago with THE SOUND OF MUSIC and continuing in 2014 with PETER PAN. To the potential joy of Ozmaniacs everywhere, the network has selected the 1975 Tony Award-winning spectacle, THE WIZ, as this year’s entry, and it kicks off at 8 o’clock EST on that Thursday evening. Confession Dept.: A week or so ago, NBC circulated photographs that “unveiled” their new make-up and costume concepts for the Fab Four, and as a great fan of the original production of THE WIZ, I found the fresh approach genuinely off-putting. However…I’m working to keep an open mind, and here’s hoping for a final outcome that’s worthy of the property!

[For any who might be interested in the fascinating saga of THE WIZ, its 1974 journey to Broadway, the impact of its 1975 opening night performance – and etc.! – please see the blogs for April 10th, 17th, and 24th.]

[Above: The newfangled “look” of some celebrated citizenry for TV’s THE WIZ LIVE! Is it just me, or aren’t those Oz characters supposed to be attractive, appealing, and lovable?!]

There are additional noteworthy, upcoming telecasts: getTV is re-presenting (for the first time in five-decades-plus) all twenty-six hours of THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW, initially seen on CBS in 1963-64. Judy’s Christmas episode – scheduled for November 23rd and repeated December 21st – is a happy mélange of holiday and show tunes, climaxed by one of only three times in her career that she sang “Over the Rainbow” on television. Then, coming up in January, getTV offers the Garland program with Ray Bolger, THE WIZARD OF OZ “Scarecrow,” as a special guest, and during which he and his hostess informally reminisce about the movie and sing a couple of numbers from the score. But regardless of repertoire and visiting celebrities, THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW is exemplary viewing, and getTV airs each episode every Monday night at 8 and 11 p.m., on Fridays at 1 p.m., and on Sundays at 9 a.m., EST. (Please visit get.TV to locate the cable or antenna channel that carries their listings in your area.)

[Above: Dorothy and The Scarecrow reunited – twenty-five years after the fact! “Miss Show Business” and Ray Bolger recall their greatest film roles during a 1963 installment of her TV series.]

Anyone in or near North Carolina? Don’t miss the first full production of the new stage musical, CHASING RAINBOWS: THE ROAD TO OZ, running at the Flat Rock Playhouse in Hendersonville from November 27th-December 19th. It tells the affecting backstory of Judy Garland’s life from age four to sixteen, and the script reaches its peak and finale during the early days of WIZARD OF OZ filming in October 1938. The songs include many wonderful standards from the 1920s and 1930s, among them (of course) “Over the Rainbow.”

[Above: Poster art for the new stage musical about Judy Garland’s preteen and teen years. After its North Carolina engagement this month and next, the show is booked at the legendary Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in late summer 2016.]

All of this seasonal entertainment action leads to a heartfelt suggestion for your holiday shopping, especially if you are – or know – an Ozian…or someone who should become one! This past summer and autumn, every 2015 Oz Festival heralded the thirtieth anniversary of Disney’s RETURN TO OZ motion picture. Whether one is pro or con that cinematic effort, it’s worth noting that “the real Oz” behind the movie plot can be found in narrative elements of L. Frank Baum’s second and third Oz books, THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ and OZMA OF OZ. The stories are vastly amusing, engaging, and exciting – and this would be an ideal opportunity to introduce any youngsters to bedtime reading-aloud…or to encourage them to read on their own. Another fine title, THE ROAD TO OZ, features Dorothy in her fourth trip to Oz, arriving back in The Emerald City just in time for Princess Ozma’s birthday party. (Another honored participant in the revelry is no less a personage than Santa Claus himself!)

[Above: The book that started it all, along with OZMA OF OZ, the third book of Baum’s series – and the story that marks Dorothy’s first “return to Oz.”]

These books and so much other Ozzy merchandise – CDs, DVDs, apparel, décor, ad infinitum – can be accessed through the Wamego OZ Museum gift shop: . It’s a one-stop destination, whether you’re adding to your own collection or starting someone else along the incomparable Yellow Brick Road.

Once again, and as ever, I thank you for reading. See you again on November 27th with a trivia response – and on December 4th with the latest musings from Oz!

Article by John Fricke


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