|Posted by Page2Stage Entertainment. on January 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM|
Angelo Thomas's BlogspotAngelo Thomas's Oz Blog.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 Exclusive Interview with Page to Stage Entertainment After a two week absence from the web. Today, I interviewed the folks from Page to Stage Entertainment, the company who is working on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A New Musical".
They gave us an inside scoop on the production.
1.) What's the goal in working on this musical? (By that I mean, are you hoping to get it on Broadway, tour, etc.)
All of the above. What we are hoping to do is tour in various cities across the country, starting in Seattle and ending in New York City. Two of the places we are putting on the list are Chicago, and Topeka Kansas. We plan to end in NYC at the American Theater of Actors which is the same off Broadway space that the famous musical Urine Town started before it headed to Broadway a month later.
2.) What is the musical about?
It's the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but not the way MGM or even the producers of the 1902-1914 stage show produced. Our retelling of this story is true to the book, and to the spirit of the books that Baum himself wrote. We dive deeper into the character of the creatures, people, and situations that Baum created. We learn at the beginning of the show that the writer, Baum, has a very, very ill niece. Baum tells her the story of the Magical Land of Oz, placing her into the tale through the character of Dorothy Gale. The scene then changes to a run down farm in Franklin Kansas with Dorothy Gale, an Orphan, and her dog Toto. They are sent to live with her mother's Twin sister, Emily Blue, who married her school beau Henry Blue and stayed on the farm with him. Dorothy's mother had married a Wealthy Merchant and moved to the city of Topeka. Dorothy has done the reverse of the Cinderella tale. She's gone from living a comfortable life, to living a life on the desolate Kansas Prairies with relatives she hardly knows. Her Aunt and Uncle are much to busy to pay her or Toto any mind, or to give her the love she yearns for.
A cyclone then hits the farm, rips up the house and sucks it up into space. We then move to the Land of the East in Oz where the Blue colored Munchkins are being attacked by the Witch of the East. As the witch is hitting them with a cat of nine tails, Dorothy's farmhouse falls from the sky and lands on her, leaving only her SILVER SHOES, not Ruby, but Silver. The house falls, she's killed, and the Munchkins rejoice. Dorothy steps out of the house with Toto, and they are greeted by Locasta the Good Witch of the North (Gilliken Country). She gives Dorothy the silver shoes, and a protective kiss, before asking for advice from her sister Glinda, the good witch of the South (Quadling Country). Glinda tells her to send the child to the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City. Dorothy is given a map, and a Diamond ring by the mayor of the town now that the East witch is dead. In the Land of the West (Winkie Country.)
The Witch of the West learns of her sisters death and vows revenge on Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy picks up the Scarecrow, who tells her that he was "Munchkin Made" and has no Brains. He joins her on the Road of Yellow Brick and as they travel, the Witch of the West follows behind and bullies Boq and Milla for information about Dorothy. Dorothy and the Scarecrow then find Nick Chopper (Tin Woodsman) rusted a few feet away from his half built cottage. Dorothy and Scarecrow use his Oil Can to oil him up, and he tells them of his sad story. He was in love, and the Witch of the East used his ax to cut him up and rip out his heart. Dorothy and Scarecrow invite him to join them along the road of Yellow Bricks. As they walk, a large Lion jumps out, and attacks them until Dorothy punches him in the face for trying to eat Toto. We learn that the lion lost his pride to the Witch if the West's Winkies, because he told them to fight and not to hide. He tells the three that he was rescued from the Witch by a man in a top hat and a Balloon. Dorothy talks him into asking Oz for Courage and they're soon off to find the Emerald City of Oz.
While the Witch of the West continues to follow them, they are attacked by Kalidahs near the Munchkin River and have to escape on a raft that Nick Chopper builds. They get sucked towards a whirlpool, and Scarecrow is stuck in the middle of the river until he is rescued by a stork. The lion jumps into the water and rescues the rest of them as he does in the book.
They are then attacked by Sexy Poppy Girls and their queen, and are rescued by Locasta, (like in the 1902 stage show). We have a dance fight with the Poppy's and Jack Frost and his men. The four reach Emerald City, are given Green Glasses to wear, and are shown around by the Soldier with green whiskers. They see the wizard of oz one at a time and are all told to KILL the witch. Not bring back her broom, but kill
her. This ends Act One.
This should at least entice you to want to hear or see more.
3.) How has it been working on the project?
Great at times, hard at others. Michael's been working on these drafts of whats been in his mind since he was 12 years old. Mr. Gershowitz was first introduced to the Wizard of Oz at age three, by his older sister and her best friend. They had their own theater company at the time. Michael has been working in theater since age 12, and on film since he was 17 years old. The hardest part for us has always been the money. Putting up your money and having friends and family help you out is cool, but at times hard. When you feel like you have a great idea, and product out there, you're limited by money. The three best people, besides his family and friends, who looked out for the project from the beginning are Ricardo Cordero, Elies Stimach, and Susan Bucci. They have been with us from the beginning, as part of putting together the new york readings, and reviewing and working on the script. We also need to mention three special Dorothy's, Jessica Rios, who was the first of the first new york Dorothy's, Lauren Lesnick, the second Dorothy, and Grace Woody, the current Dorothy. These three women have made the role of Dorothy their own, and have filled the one dimensional gap that most actresses fall into by trying to bite off of Judy Garland. Michael has also picked up two great guys to work on this project with. One, a great musical theater guy, composer, singer, writer and business partner, Casey Wood, and two, Lindsey Cunningham, a wonderful and creative costumer, co-producer, and lyricist. All of us put a little of ourselves into the script and its music. We've been working on this production since 2007, and had a public reading in Seattle in 2009. Margaret Pellagrini, one of the original MGM munchkins, came to the last weekend of the readings and signed photos, spoke with the audience, and had a meet and greet before and after the readings. It was great. The new poster design is by an up and coming artist named Jon Hammond. We are using music from the original Broadway show (which ran from 1904-1914) along with the new songs by Casey Wood, featuring lyrics by Casey Wood, Lindsey Cunningham, and Michael Gershowitz. We also have William Berloni interested in training one or two of his Toto's for our show. Overall we've gotten to meet and work with great creative people by doing this, and we feel like our Oz projects bring out the best, and most creative part of the people involved.
4.) What do you think fans can expect from the musical?
Fans can expect to see there favorite scenes from the original Oz book on stage, and for those scenes to have the feel of the books, and not the film. We have great scenes, wonderful creatures, and amazing characters that everyone will enjoy seeing come alive on stage. Also, the biggest thing is we have made Dorothy's back story and the stories of the three guys more prominent then ever before. Yes, Wicked the book, and musical has done that. But we are going back to the books, and using what Michael, as the writer, has found from the later books to use as a jumping off point. You get to see themes and scenes that most people either have forgotten about, or don't know, and the music is strong (you can hear it at our website at wwozanewmusical.webs.com). You can't go wrong with silver shoes, and Gothic, hot sexy wicked witches, can you?
I'd like to thank Michael Gershowitz, Casey Wood, Gamon Michaels, and the rest of the folks over at Page to Stage for agreeing to do this interview.