THE WOGGLEBUG'S REVIEW
Here are short reviews of Oz based/related films and television shows, TV movies, audio presentations, plays and other live performances. Remember that the Woggle-Bug is very opinionated.
All underlined words are a link to a video clip or transcript. Video clips are from DVD editions of the films and are copyrighted by their specific owners, unless the film is in public domain. Clips are used to pique interest, prove points, and offer an example of the film being reviewed. Piracy or fradulent use is not intentional.
Films made in other countries noted here are generally not available internationally. However, there are video dealers who can track down films from other countries and provide a copy of it in a format compatible with your entertainment system.
You can submit short reviews and additional items, but your name WILL be included in the review. E-mail me. Reviews followed with (SAM) are from Oz fan Sam Antony Milazzo. Please remember that I have a right to edit.
The Wizard of Oz Musical Extravaganza! (1902): The very first adaptation of L. Frank Baum's story had many changes to make it work for the stage and a mostly adult audience: Toto the little black dog became Imogene the Spotted Cow, the Silver Shoes were replaced by a magic ring, the Poppies were destroyed by a snowstorm, Pastoria and another man named Wiley Gile were trying to de-throne the Wizard, Dorothy had a father in Kansas as well as a romance/love interest with a Munchkin poet named Dashemoff Daily, Niccolo Chopper the Tin Woodman was reunited with his Munchkin Maiden Cynthia Cynch and there was no Wicked Witch of the West, Kalidahs, River/stock, and of course Journey to the South. More changes came throughout the touring in the next 15 or so years. It was followed by The Woggle-Bug which was another (but unsuccessful) Stage Musical based on The Marvelous Land of Oz and The Tik-Tok Man of Oz based on Ozma of Oz which was also successfully popular and later became the book Tik-Tok of Oz. (SAM)
The Fairylogue & Radio Plays was L. Frank Baum's very costly multimedia event. Utilizing live actors and music, color-tinted slides and short films, and narration from Mr. Baum, the stories of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz and John Dough & the Cherub, as well as a promotional slideshow of Dorothy & the Wizard in Oz. Because of the high cost of the show, as well as the cost of moving everthing (it was a travelling show), the show closed before long, leaving Baum bankrupt. The slides, scripts, and scores still exsist, but the films deteriorated over time and were discarded.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz This 1910 film (most of it intact) is based on the first two books and the 1902/03 play. Dorothy meets the Scarecrow in Kansas (live and all!) and a cyclone strikes. Toto and Dorothy are hid in a haystack by the Scarecrow and a cow. The four get blown to Oz, where Toto is made giant-size by Glinda to protect Dorothy from the Cowardly Lion. These five find the Tin Woodman, who plays a piccolo. Meanwhile, the Wizard is being terrorized by the Wicked Witch "Momba," and wants to give the throne to whoever rids him of her. (Strangely, he issues a decree stating that he wants to keep the fact that "on the level I am a humbug" a secret.) Dorothy's friends are imprisoned by Momba, who makes Dorothy work. Dorothy gets mad and throws a bucket of water on her. Momba melts, and they go to the Emerald City, where the Wizard crowns the Scarecrow. The Wizard gets his balloon repaired (a humorous scene has a female worker's union!) The Wizard leaves in his balloon. Then camels and African men walk across the screen as the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman dance. (The story was continued in the lost film "Dorothy & The Scarecrow In Oz.") Available on DVD.
The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Magic Cloak of Oz, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz L. Frank Baum & the Uplifters produced these three fine silent films. Nicely made, the sets and special effects are quite good for 1914 and 1915.
The Patchwork Girl of Oz, an adaptation of the 7th Oz novel, nicely retells the basic plot, along with a lot of other additional elements, like Jeseeva and Danx, Danx also being tuned to stone on accident, and afterwards being shrunk so Jeseeva, his fiancée, won't leave him behind. Jinjur and other women fall in love with the statue. Also is the seemingly pointless "Lonesome Zoop" who makes his first appearance. Available on VHS cassette and DVD. Read the script!
The Magic Cloak of Oz, based on Baum's "Queen Zixi of Ix," retells the basic plot, and only includes brief appearances by the Zoop. Available on VHS cassette and DVD. Read the script!
His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, the basis of "The Scarecrow of Oz,"
tells the story of Princess Gloria and Pon's tragic romance. When Mombi, who has
enslaved a girl named Dorothy, freezes Gloria's heart, it's up to Pon, Dorothy,
the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, the Wizard, and Button-Bright to
conquer King Krewl and Mombi. Available on VHS cassette and DVD. Read the script!
The Wizard of Oz (1925) by Baum's oldest son, Frank Joslyn Baum, is a terrible retelling of the story, but would have made a great movie if it wasn't named "The Wizard of Oz." Fraudulence is a chief theme, as the Wizard, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are fakes, the last three really being farmhands in costumes. Dorothy is Queen of Oz, and in danger of being usurped by Prime Minister Cruel, who is also trying to frame her friends with her disappearance. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Wizard of Oz. A 1933 cartoon directed by Ted Eshbaugh and written by Frank Joslyn Baum again, except he's listed as "Col. Frank Baum." A little closer to the book than it's 1925 predecessor, a cyclone takes Dorothy and Toto to Oz where they meet the Scarecrow and the Tin man, and then go to see the Wizard, who does the finale magic act. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Wizard of Oz. MGM's "Technicolor Triumph" was by far the closest adaptation in the time frame of 1910 to 1939. Judy Garland plays a supposedly 12-year-old Dorothy, Frank Morgan is the wonderful Wizard, Ray Bolger is the Scarecrow, Jack Haley is the Tin Woodman, Bert Lahr is the cowardly Lion, and Margaret Hamilton plays the Wicked Witch. Although several elements from the book were dropped, the storyline basically remains the same, and the only objectionable change is that Dorothy's adventure is a dream! Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Rainbow Road to Oz. Walt Disney attempted to use his rights to the Oz Books in 1956 with a movie called "The Rainbow Road to Oz," but it was never made, despite a preliminary show on the Disneyland Fourth Anniversary Show, which had two musical numbers, "Patches" with Doreen Tracey as the Patchwork Girl and Bobby Burgess as the Scarecrow, and "The Oz-Kan Hop" featuring Darlene Gillespe as Dorothy and Annette Funicello as Ozma. The bits of the story line revealed hints at the Scarecrow having trouble keeping his brains, and the Cowardly Lion (who has become King of Oz) becomes mean and conceited. The story line of the preview is supposed to have the Mouseketeers convince Walt Disney to make the movie, and when he gives in, they have a musical number called "The Rainbow Road to Oz," where Oz characters AND Mouseketeers climb up a giant birthday cake. Too bad it was never made. Available on the DVD, "Your Host, Walt Disney"
The Oz Audio Collection. Ray Bolger reads abridged versions of The Wizard of Oz, The Land of Oz, Queen Zixi of Ix and some "Little Oz Stories," which are really stories from The Visitors from Oz. The abridgement of The Wizard of Oz is quite good and basic, though all of Dorothy's little adventures were removed to make the story fit in an hour. The abridgements of The Land of Oz and Queen Zixi of Ix both nicely cover their stories, though neither end where the book does. Land ends after the restoration of Ozma, then the Scarecrow says a poem that wasn't in the book! In addition, the Woggle-Bug was cut! Queen Zixi ends after Zixi decides to be content. "Little Oz Stories" are not abridged, except that the "What Did The Woggle-Bug Say?" endings are removed from the stories that have them. As it is, these are the only non-text versions of any of the "Queer Visitors" stories. Available on Audio Cassette. (CD version was planned, but abandoned.)
Tales of the Wizard of Oz. Rankin-Bass's entrance into Oz, these short cartoons told the adventures of Socrates the Straw Man, Rusty the Tin Man, Dandy Lion, Dorothy, the Wizard, the Wicked Witch, and the Munchkins. The animation wasn't very good, and neither were the stories. They seem to have an original quality, though. It seems the series wasn't based on the Oz books or MGM's movie. Some episodes were released on VHS cassette.
The Shirley Temple Show: The Land of Oz The pilot for the adult Shirley Temple's television show was an adaptation of the second Oz book. Despite it's low production quality and the many liberties taken with the story, the heart behind it is what really matters. Lord Nikidik (Johnathan Winters, there is no General Jinjur) decides to take over Oz, so he hires Mombi (Agnes Moorehead, pre-BEWITCHED) to kidnap princess Ozma of Oz (Shirley!) and turn her into a marble statue. She decides to turn Ozma into a boy instead to help her with the chores. Tip, the boy, makes Jack Pumpkinhead, whom Mombi brings to life. Mombi then decides to turn Tip into a marble statue. Tip and Jack run away, and soon make use of the Powder of Life to bring the Sawhorse to life. In order to stop Mombi and General Nikidik, they'll need all the help they can get from the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and help from Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. It's very charming! Available on DVD.
Return to Oz was Rankin-Bass' 1964 follow-up to Tales of the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is taken back to Oz with a magic letter forged by the restored Wicked Witch of the West, who has destroyed Socrates' diploma, Rusty's heart, and Dandy's medal. They go to see the Wizard, but the Witch has many tricks up her sleeve, but so do the Wizard, Glinda, and Dorothy & Co. It seems like a reworking of the original "Wizard of Oz." A sweet little TV special (51 minutes), but does not feel like Baum's Oz...or MGM's. Available on DVD.
The Wonderful Land of Oz. This 1969 musical nicely retells "The Marvelous Land of Oz," despite the lack of the Sawhorse, although the frightfully small cast, lackluster songs, terrible sets and special effects basically KILLED it. Simply, if they had done a better job, they would have had a better movie. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Wizard of the City of Emeralds (1973-74) This stop-motion animated take was the first (faithful) Russian adaptation of either Baum's book or Alexander Volkov's Russian translation. (SAM)
Journey Back to Oz. This 1974 animated musical used elements from the second book. Dorothy and Toto are blown back to Oz by another cyclone. They meet Pumpkinhead, servant of Mombi, who wants to overthrow the Emerald City with her army of magic green elephants. A rather cute film, though this reviewer found the mediocre songs annoying after awhile. The film features an all-star cast, the best of which is Liza Minnelli as Dorothy, who sounds remarkably like her mother. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Wiz (1978). Rated "R" for "retarded." (According my sister.) It's script bears little resemblance to the original Broadway production. The song and dance sequences are too long. It lacks brain, heart, and it has too much courage. Dorothy is a Harlem school teacher who gets blown to Oz in a blizzard. Then it's one weird adventure after another, looking like it was based on the MGM movie and using enough of the original Baum story and Joel Schumaker's touches to avoid being accused of plagiarism. If I'd seen it on the big screen, I would've "eased on down" the aisle out of the theater. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
Dorothy in the Land of Oz (Also known as Thanksgiving in Oz, Christmas in Oz, Dorothy and the Green Gobbler in Oz, or Oz). This cartoon special, first shown in 1980, combines elements from "The Marvelous Land of Oz," "Ozma of Oz," "Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz," "The Emerald City of Oz," and "The Patchwork Girl of Oz." Dorothy and Toto, riding on the Wizard's green turkey balloon, return to Oz, (hint on the ending: Aunt Em says the bank will be foreclosing on the farm the next day.) meet Jack Pumpkinhead, from whom Tyrone the Terrible Toy Tinkerer (who bears a strong resemblance to John R. Neill's Nome King) steals the Powder of Life, (made by a Dr. Pippen, not Pipt) and brings to life the balloon. In order to stop Tyrone's plot, Dorothy, Toto, Crust (a talking mince pie), Hungry Tiger, and Tik-tok, try to stop him. All other comments are simply, VERY nicely animated! Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The "Doctor Pippen" may be related to one of writer Romeo Muller's previous films: The Return of the King. This film featured a character named "Pippin." Romeo Mueller also wrote Rankin-Bass' animated Return to Oz.
The Marvelous Land of Oz. This 1981 television broadcast of the Minneapolis Children's Theatre was one of the best versions of the second Oz book. The songs were spaced out (unlike THE WIZ), all of the book's main characters were used effectively, and some characters that were only mentioned were given larger roles (like Dr. Nikidik). Some additions, like Tip's emerald ring, helped the story, instead of hindering it. One complaint is that they really should've had someone else play Ozma instead of the actor who played Tip. A boy in a dress and wig doesn't really sell the idea. But, overall, with the exclusion of the Jackdaw's nest storyline, a wonderful adaptation of the story. Available on VHS cassette. (out of print, but used and new copies are still available online.)
The Wizard of Oz (1982) starred Ailynn Quinn (from "Annie) as Dorothy and Lorne Greene as the Wizard, this anime was faithful to the book, despite resemblances to MGM: red shoes, Dorothy getting knocked out, running throughout the Wicked Witch of teh West's castle, etc. Also starred the lady from "Barbar" as the Good North Witch, Wicked West Witch & Aunt Em. It was made by Paramount/Toho. (SAM)
The Tramps & the Wizard of Oroz This 1984 film from Brazil only has the plot slightly inspired by the Baum book: Didi, Tatu, and Soro, three practically homeless men, load their house and posessions onto their wagon and head for the town of Oroz. Along the way they meet Scarecrow, and Vat the Tin Can Man. In Oroz, they steal bread for children and are eventually caught by the cowardly Sheriff Lion. They are told that they may be released if Didi, Scarecrow, and Vat, supervised by Sheriff Lion, will find a source of water for the drought-stricken town. Along the way, they meet the Wizard of Oroz who has a solution... or does he?
Return to Oz. This 1985 film by Walt Disney Pictures was greatly disliked by the public, mainly because it didn't have the same spirit as MGM's movie, which Disney didn't want to do. Based on "The Marvelous Land of Oz" and mostly "Ozma of Oz," it really does offer a darker version of the Land of Oz, although somewhat closer to Baum's original Oz than MGM. Dorothy has insomnia because Aunt Em and Uncle Henry won't believe her stories about Oz, so they take her to get shock therapy. From the clinic, the adventure begins, with a girl showing Dorothy how to escape, and Dorothy and her hen, Billina, winding up in a ravaged Oz. Dorothy goes to confront the Nome King to restore the Emerald City and the Scarecrow. Of course, that's not the ENTIRE story; you'll just have to see Anchor Bay's (or Disney's) DVD or video releases. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
Wizard of Oz. This 1986 Japanese anime cartoon, although a nice retelling of the plot of Baum’s story, strangely alters some features. The Tin Man is not rusted when they find him, they find the lion behind a tree, the Wicked Witch of the West disappears instead of melting, Glinda is a tiny fairy, Dorothy taps a heel on the ground instead of clicking her heels together, there’s NO Aunt Em or Uncle Henry, and Toto is left behind in Kansas. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz. These four films, composed of a cartoon series, were released on HBO in 1987. They adapted Baum's original stories, but altered them quite a bit. (E.g. Dorothy goes back to Oz in Marvelous Land, the wheelers in Ozma of Oz become pygmy cavemen on stone unicycles.) Many of the characters are presented the wrong way, especially Glinda in the second film. At the end of the series, Dorothy is told she can return to Oz whenever she wants. The stories also overlap with each other. A nice series of films, but they could've been nicer. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
Dorothy Meets Ozma of Oz is an animated adaptation of Ozma of Oz in less than 30 minutes. This presentation is hosted by Micheal Gross. In this version, Dorothy, Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and Toto are on a trip to Austrailia to visit some of Em's relatives. When Toto runs outside, Dorothy goes to get him, but is washed overboard and seeks shelter in a chicken coop. The next morning, they find themselves on the shores of Oz. (Don't ask!) Dorothy and Billina go to look for Toto, but accidentally anger the Wheelers by taking a lunchpail. They are saved by a group consisting of Ozma, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, the Hungry Tiger, and Tik-tok. Dorothy and Billina join them on their way to the Nome Kingdom, where the Nome King has the Queen of Ev and her children prisoners. You can figure out the rest from there. There is a "it was a dream" bit, but Dorothy is reassured that her adventure DID happen. Available on VHS cassette, but out-of-print.
The Wizard of Oz. A 1990 Goodtimes cartoon. Pressing the book's main plot into 26 not-so-nicely animated minutes, many elements were left out or blended together. The narrative made no point to the story, and the Wizard's gift giving is terrible, not to mention the Winkies have become warthog faced midget cavemen. D
The Dreamer of Oz. This 1990 made for TV movie recounted the life of L. Frank Baum from the time he met Maud Gage, then it continues in detail until the success of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, many details are inaccurate. It has it that Baum created the entire story of The Wonderful Wizard over his whole life, though there is no evidence to support this. Plus, his niece Dorothy Gage dies at about six, while in real life she died before she was one year old. Also, Matilda Gage (his mother in law) is portrayed as disapproving until he tries to get Oz published. Her dissaproval of Frank didn't last that long, and she supported the publication of Mother Goose in Prose, but died in 1898, a year before the troubles with Oz began. A nice film, but don't take it as straight history!
The Wizard of Oz. This 1990 cartoon series by DIC Animation was based on the MGM film. Dorothy finds the ruby slippers in her closet in Kansas and returns to Oz, but the magical land is in trouble. The Wicked Witch of the West is back and wants the ruby slippers and keep the Wizard from returning to the Emerald City. The animation is not as good as some of DIC's subsequent work, and they also built a weird mythology based on the film, but a not a good or clever mythology, mind you! Available on the DVD's "The Wizard of Oz: The Rescue of the Emerald City," "The Wizard of Oz: The Continuing Story," and "The Wizard of Oz: We're Off To Save The Wizard!"
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic. This 1990 broadcast, hosted by Angela Lansbury, tells the story of how MGM made their classic Movie. Also, it acknowledges Baum as the creator of Oz, although making it sound as if "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was his first book, which it was NOT! Available on VHS cassette and DVD. (With certain editions the 1939 "Wizard of Oz.)
The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz. This anime (a condensed version of a TV show) has a strong point: Oz is entirely too different to really compare it to anything, so one must simply try to enjoy it. Dorothy, her dog Toto, and her robot companion Chopper board a spaceship and are sucked into a black hole. They find themselves in the strange and mystical galaxy of Oz, where they meet the brainless Plantman and the Cowardly Lionman, and they journey to the Emerald City to see the Wizard. It soon becomes a quest to recover the Rainbow Crystal before the scheming Gloomhilda (lazier than Langwidere!) captures it to release her captive mother, the Wicked Witch of the West. Available on DVD.
The Wizard of Oz on Ice. In 1996, CBS proudly showed this "on-ice" version of MGM's movie. Bobby MacFerrin did the narration, voices for all characters, except Dorothy, played the Wizard, and sang the songs (except Dorothy's songs), which even contained an edited version of "The Jitterbug!" Available on VHS cassette.
The Oz Kids was a series of direct-to-video animated features from 1996-97, possibly comprised of a televison show. The series featured the adventures of the children of the famous Oz characters: Dorothy's children Dot and Neddy, the Scarecrow's son Scarecrow Jr., the Tin Woodman's son Tin Boy, the Cowardly Lion's children Boris and Bela, Jack Pumpkinhead's son Jack, the Wizard's son Frank, and Glinda's daughter Andrea. These were mostly original stories using plots and subplots from L. Frank Baum's children's books. Very faithful to the spirit of Baum's stories, and very charming. All are available on VHS cassette. (Christmas In Oz and Who Stole Santa? available on DVD on in the United Kingdom.)
In Toto Lost In New York, Toto 2 is accidentally sent to New York. Can the Oz kids and a hobo named Rick find him and make it back to Oz?
In The Nome Prince and the Magic Belt, the Nome King's son Otto steals the Magic Belt and transforms many of the Oz Kids into glass ornaments. It's up to Dot to save her friends, get the Magic Belt back, and get back to the Emerald City before their parents find out!
In Virtual Oz, Otto gives the Kids a home-made computer game as a prank. When loaded, the Kids find themselves inside the game itself! But when an extra player becomes one too many and causes a glitch, the Oz Kids have to solve challenges and depend on Otto to rescue them.
In Who Stole Santa? the Oz Kids hear the story of Santa's life and adventures (based on The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus) just before hearing that Santa has been kidnapped by the evil Awgwas! When Wisk the elf asks them for help, can the Oz Kids rescue Santa in time for his Christmas Eve trip?
In Christmas In Oz, the Oz Kids send out the invitations for the Emerald City's Christmas Party. Feeling slighted that he was not invited, Otto steals Andrea's invitation, making it look like she was not invited either. Can the Oz Kids convince Andrea of Otto's trick in time to make it to the party?
Frank winds up in an Underground Adventure when he gets caught in an earthquake during a visit to San Francisco.
The Oz Kids meet The Monkey Prince, who forces them to help find "Where All The Waters Come From."
In The Return of Mombi, Mombi the Wicked Witch gets her memory back and proceeds to conquer Oz. If only the Oz Kids would stay out her way...
In Journey Beneath the Sea, Dot, Rick, Boris, Bela, Ned, and Toto 2 join the mermaids for an undersea adventure, meeting King Anko the Sea Serpent and the Evil Zog. (Based somewhat loosely on The Sea Fairies.)
Adventures in the Emerald City: The Silver Shoes & Princess Ozma These two Russian films (running just under an hour each) are some of the best animated Oz cartoons I've ever seen, even though I couldn't understand a word of dialogue! "The Silver Shoes" is a very faithful adaptation of "Wonderful Wizard," but is likely also based on Alexander Volkov's translation/rewriting of the first Oz book. (The Wicked Witch of the East creating the tornado that brings Dorothy to Oz and Toto/Totoshka talking were BIG tip-offs!) Sadly, the kalidahs were replaced by weird lizard-monsters and the whole trip south was eliminated.
"Princess Ozma" takes some liberties with the story of "The Marvelous Land of Oz," but is faithful nonetheless. The Jackdaws' nest was included, and how they get there is hilarious! Dorothy appears just after they meet the Woggle-bug, and Mombi makes a visit to the Nome King. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
Lion of Oz. A 2000 made for TV film based on Roger S. Baum's Lion of Oz & The Badge of Courage. Oscar Diggs gives the circus lion a ride in a hot air balloon. (Who, in their right mind, would do that?) Lion is given a badge of courage. When a storm blows the balloon to the Land of Oz, Lion and Oscar are separated. The Wicked Witch of the East tells Lion she has Oscar prisoner and will set him free if Lion brings her the Flower of Oz. Lion takes the journey, and meets Silly Ozbul (a Roger S. Baum character who has almost no purpose in the tale), a girl named Wimsik, and her dolls Captain Fitzgerald and Caroline. As above mentioned, some of the characters who join Lion have next to no purpose. They could have cut out Caroline and Silly Ozbul. Still, a very fine animated film, not one of the absolute best, but then not one of the worst for Oz. Available on VHS cassette and DVD.
The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus Universal's 2000 animated adaptation of Baum's biography of Santa Claus (which is somewhat connected to the Oz books) was very faithful to the book, though a few fans of Oz and the book found minor alterations irritating. Available on VHS cassette.
The Wonderful World of Oz. The Colonial Radio Theatre's adaptations of Baum's first five Oz novels (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy & the Wizard in Oz, and The Road to Oz) were excellent! The stories were faithfully adapted, and the cast, sound effects, and music were all beautiful! The only problem is that they continually call the Woggle-Bug the "Woogle-Bug." Colonial is working on making more of the stories into audio dramatizations. Definitely a series to keep your eyes on! Available on Audio Cassette. (Also available as audio downloads.)
The Wizard of Oz - An Australian Stage revival of MGM (2001-02) with an all-star "Ozzy" cast including Bert Newton as Professor Marvel/Emerald City Gate Keeper/Wizard of Oz, Pamela Rabe as Almira Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West, Kane Alexander as Hunk the Scarecrow, Philip Gould as Hickory the Tinman, Doug Parkinson as Zeke the Cowardly Lion, Delia Hannah as Aunt Em/Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Tony Geappen as Uncle Henry (he played this role in 2 previous productions) and, needless to say, (former) Pop-Star Princess Nikki Webster as Dorothy Gale from Kansas, while Toto was played by two Cairn Terriers Spirit and Porsche, trained by Lindy Coote and the Munchkins being played by children Nikki's age or younger. This revival not only continued the tradition of having dull costumes in Kansas and colourful costumes in Oz, playing abandoned songs "the Jitterbug" and "Ding-Dong! Emerald City" and Toto being played by (this time more than one) girl, but also altering it slightly closer to the book, such as mentioning "There is no road to the West. Keep to the setting sun." and the Emerald City being seen after the Poppy Field. A few of the other alterations included Scarecrow's "If I Only Had a Brain" being performed with 3 Crow (men) and Tinman's "If I Only Had a Heart" being joined by the 3 Apple-Tree (girls), as well as Pamela Rabe giving her Wicked West Witch a little feisty attitude, such as showing her stripped-stocking legs (just like her dearly-deaprted sister!) and raising her head one last time before completely melting away. Projections on screen and stage allowed the audience to see the twister behind the farm, Dorothy being knocked before her house was seen flying through the cyclone (which was tilted a little too much) and the Yellow Brick Road. When Dorothy finally got her wish to go back home to Kansas, she floated up above and off the stage (Toto left with the on-stage disappearing cast) as a screen replayed the CG-animated cyclone (without the house). The finale included all the actors gathering together to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Although Nikki Webster's acting was not entirely realistic or Judy Garland material, her devoted fans still loved her nonetheless (especially ME!!). Available on CD "Live Australian Cast Recording", despite having 'Melting Witch' instead of "Ding-Dong! Emerald City" and 'There's No Place Like Home', which should've had more audio-collection. (SAM)
Lost in Oz This series (not to be confused with Tim Burton's unreleased movie "Lost in Oz") didn't really launch, but they did make a pilot. In it, Alexandra Wilder is transported to Oz, where she meets Cal Janson, a pilot from World War 2! (He still thinks it's 1943.) They meet the new Good Witch of the South, and are sent to rescue the new ruler of the Emerald City, Ozma, from the new Wicked Witch of the West. They are joined by Selena, the "Patchwork Girl." Unfortunately, the pilot contains no characters from the MGM movie (even the Munchkins are long gone), thus losing that audience, and although there are characters based on the characters in the books, they are not those characters, thus losing that audience! In addition, the feel of the pilot was too dark, making Disney's Return to Oz look as sweet and vibrant as the MGM movie!
Wicked, the Broadway musical, is a very loose adaptation of Wicked: The Life & Times Of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. The play (which opened in 2003) follows the life of Elphaba (originally played by Idina Menzel), greatly focusing on her friendship with Galinda (originally played by Kristin Chenowith), as she discovers her strange abilities and is eventually labeled "The Wicked Witch of the West." For legal reasons, it claims to be a prequel to the L. Frank Baum book, but is in actuality a prequel to the famous MGM movie. It is a very charming and powerful musical, it's main strength in it's score by Steven Schwartz, including songs such as "Defying Gravity," "No One Mourns the Wicked," "Dancing Through Life," and "For Good." The Original Cast Recording is available on CD.
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. Disney's 2005 TV movie was very bold, considering the failure of their last Oz project, Return to Oz. In a modern twist, Dorothy (Ashanti) is tired of living in a trailer and helping Aunt Em (Queen Latifah) in her diner, and aspires to be a singer. When her trailer is blown to Oz, she and her king prawn Toto (Pepe the Prawn) wind up on an adventure to see the Wizard who will make her a star. She is accompanied by Scarecrow (Kermit), the Tin Thing (Gonzo) and the Cowardly Lion (Fozzie Bear).
One thing that this version does right is have four witches, Tattypoo (Miss Piggy), The Wicked Witch of the East (Miss Piggy), The Wicked Witch of the West (Miss Piggy), and Glinda (Miss Piggy). It's pretty fun, and the importance of home and family that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has retained eventually resurfaces, but too late to show they are important. I wasn't too pleased by uses of the word "sexy," mention of certain body parts, or the Wizard's appearance as a very...pretty lady. But overall, a clever adaptation, though not one of Oz's or the Muppets' best. Available on DVD.
Chapter 6's Available on VHS cassette.ery Own Six-Minute Version of THE WIZARD OF OZ. You've never seen OZ until you see it performed by a six man a capella group, namely the multi-award-winning Chapter 6. In a six minute breakdown of the MGM movie, they sing brilliant renditions of "Over The Rainbow," "Follow The Yellow Brick Road," "If I Only Had A Brain," "King of the Forest," "Off To See The Wizard," and "Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead!" A.D. Stonecipher narrates and voices the Wizard, Luke Menard sings Dorothy's songs, Nathan Pufall sings for the Scarecrow, Jarrett Johnson sings as the Tin Woodsman, Chuck Bosworth imitates Bert Lahr for the Cowardly Lion, and John Musick voices the Wicked Witch. Arranger and composer Mark Grizzard fills in for anyone who can't perform. This arrangement won an award for best a capella comedy arrangement, and an audio recording is available on their album, "Swing Shift," and a live performance recorded and released on DVD included this segment. Available on DVD and CD
The Patchwork Girl Of Oz Thundertoad Animation's first 3D-animated Oz film was an abridgement of Baum's seventh Oz novel. The animation is not very good, and the voices need emotion. There is real heart behind this, though. Available on DVD