Sunday, 11 November 2012

Rainbow Connections - 1903 Musical & 1939 MGM

This 1960's The Wizard of Oz LP happens to be the first Oz item to start my collection! 
I've had it since I was about 5, my Mum bought it for me from a charity shop, or Goodwill store in the US. It is much loved and careworn! You can see a little nibble at the top right corner courtesy of my dog "Ozzy" who I had when I was 19.

I remember being fascinated with the way Dorothy's apron sits on her dress! 
I didn't realise when I was that young that it wasn't Judy Garland singing but a Roberta Rex there  are no original casts member singing from the movie.

This is actually a budget 1960's release after a little hunting around apparently this EMI label was an easy listening budget label which churned out lots of cover version with Geoff Love and his Orchestra there is even a Star Wars and space themes LP around.

Now take a good close look at the back cover, come on you know the story just by looking at the cover right?
You know the one where Dorothy Dale is swept away with her pet Cow Imogene to the land of Oz and kills a witch. Dorothy is given a magical Ring at which she brings the Scarecrow to life who then has his brain stolen, and meets up with Tin Man whose heart is stolen by Cynthia........
That's right now take a look at the third image if you click it will on it will expand, at first I thought this was some bizarre stage production in UK that had used the MGM songs but the story of the 1903 Musical. 

After telling David Maxine about this LP on his UK visit. I went into my collection and had a look again, after finding out this is a budget release, it definitely was not part of a 1960's London play shame that would of been a cool and bizarre mis-mash to research!
I can only think that the sleeve writer was very sloppy I mean Dorothy Dale? It would appear that the writer has never seen the MGM Wizard of Oz musical (is that even possible?) but might have had  access to part of the story the 1903 Musical?
Or as it was a budget release did the company not have the rights to the musical so avoided referencing the MGM story due to copyright issues, it an unusual although interesting anomaly. I do wonder how much of story background this is actually direct from the 1903 musical as it certainly isn't from the MGM story!

I'll be back next time with Oz book Favourite number 8!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In at 9 - The Magical Mimics of Oz by Jack Snow 1946.

In at personal chart favourite number 9 The Magical Mimics of Oz by Jack Snow 1946.

My appreciation of Jack Snow's Magical Mimics of Oz has grown on me somewhat since I first read it! I cannot remember when exactly I read this book, it was as an adult and at the time I had only read a few Thompson books and Edward Einhorn's Paradox of Oz so it is most likely the early 00’s. My edition’s is the Books of Wonder paperback, although I did nearly purchase a first edition at the Winkie convention.

I had read online that Snow was a big fan of Baum's and that he also wrote his Oz solely on Baum's vision ignoring the Thompson and Neil  Oz book edition. 
I recall enjoying the book, but finding its writing style a little to simplistic at the time and devoid of humour and whimsy or mystery of previous Oz books.

I have taken a little longer in writing about this book as I took the time to read it before this post, something that I cannot promise of the other 8 favourites in the chart left to go, I will try where I can.

Since now having read all but one of famous forty Oz books I have a greater appreciation of Magical Mimic's and still rate it above any of Thompson Oz books. Although Thompson does still get some kudos for continuing and often exceeding Baum on puns in Oz!

Snow writes a somewhat dark Oz book that does feel that little bit darker even than Baum solely due to its lack of humour, it is however one of the tightest plotted of all the Oz books the story is direct and there are no real side line adventures along the way apart from maybe Story blossom garden although even this serves a purpose to the plot.

Ozana, Pineville and Story Blossom garden are great addition’s to Oz, the Magical Mimic's the most fearful conquerors since the Nome King and his cronies in Baum’s Emerald City of Oz. 
Dorothy and the Wizard are central to the plot and Baum's Oz citizens although mainly focused upon Scraps, Scarecrow and Toto Aunt Em Uncle Henry are welcome refresh back to long list of Baum’s Oz citizen in Ozma’s court. I noted that Ojo was back to just Ojo the Lucky.

The references to Lurline and some of the early Baum mythology, shows a real passion for Baum's Oz you do really feel that Oz exist! Something that with Thompson carefree writing style and Neill's hap-hazard writing style is lost, as I always got the impression that neither to of the authors believed in Baum's Oz as a real place, as  readers you want to believe in Oz this Baum did understand. Snow as both a fan of Oz and Baum himself writes an Oz you feel exists and does feel like Baum’s Oz for the first time since Glinda of Oz.

I think the area that is lacking hen I say simple style is you know exactly what will happen from the start when Ozma oddly drops in the Magical Mimics to Dorothy into conversation causally, you know what is coming next although the title also gives that away. He tries very hard to get Baum’s tone in his narration and on occasion I felt you little talked down to which is some Baum was a master at avoiding in his writing.

The story is resolved satisfactorily and all is well in the end of course. I would have liked for Jack Snow to have been able to write more about Oz, I think he had a lot more to offer but sadly other than The Shaggy Man of Oz and a character compendium of Who's who in Oz and one short story a Murder in Oz that is all he was able to add to the series, there is fabled manuscript Over the Rainbow to Oz but most Oz fans I have spoken do not believe this exists. 

I think another thing that jarred me the first time is Frank Kramers illustration's they are not even half way as brilliant as John R. Neill's at his most tired illustrations which is a shame after he had held the Royal illustrator mantle so beautifully for forty years. There is the odd glimmer of a great illustration but sadly in the main are all lacking that something special and his version of Dorothy is one of the worst.

It’s a shame that Jack couldn’t have continued the series for a few more years as it would have been interesting to see what he could have added to the series.

It is also a great shame that he lived with such a lack of support from his family and couldn’t deal with his own homosexuality, in time when this was still taboo.

However many of us Oz fans do appreciate his Oz book addition’s and his shift in tone back to Baum’s vision of Oz.

Favourite Oz book personal Chart so far -

10) The Wishing Horse of Oz - Ruth Plumly Thompson
9) The Magical Mimics of Oz - Jack Snow

I'll be back next time with a Rainbow connection that links the 1903 Wizard of Oz play and the MGM Wizard of Oz technicolor musical.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ceremonies and Oz

Today 08/10/12 or yesterday depending on if reading this in the Uk or US is the second Year Civil Partnership Anniversary for my husband and I, this year is also our 10th year together! Where does Oz come into this? Well actually I have two Oz references for you from our Civil Ceremony and both tracks were played on the afternoon for our commitment ceremony. Over the Rainbow was the track of choice for when we enter the ceremony room and walked up to the registrar! Not just any Over the Rainbow we wanted to fool everyone a little bit and keep them guessing what the tracks would be, so this is no Judy Garland this is the Over the Rainbow from used on the 50 First Dates soundtrack that we adored and when I was thinking of the track to have on the day when Glee played their version of this and I knew that was the one!

 Secondly, we needed another track that meant a lot, we both loved the track to the Golden Girls opening song "Thank you for being a friend" the original by Andrew Gold was to downbeat! The Golden Girls lighter version to short a track, so I found this Valerie De la Cruz version that was just right. The Lyric's speak for themselves as to why this is a great wedding track, plus we both just love the Golden Girls and for the Oz reference? Well of course Blanche Devereaux actress the sadly deceased Rue Mclanahan had two Oz roles, one as L Frank Baum's Mother in Law Matilda Joslyn Gage in The Dreamer of Oz and the Formidable Madame Morrible in the stage version of Wicked!
These Mimic's of song will lead nicely into My Magical book favourite number 9! Sorry to not keep up on posts but life is a little busy at the moment, but I hope you'll enjoy this personal post.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

MGM Wizard of Oz in 3D!

The folks over at high def digest are reporting MGM's Wizard of Oz in 3D at Cinema and on Blu ray in next. Here's hoping they don't a mess of this! Take a look at their post here - 'The Wizard of Oz - 3D' Announced for Blu-ray As part of their 90th anniversary celebration, Warner Brothers will be converting the classic 1939 musical to 3D for release theatrically and on Blu-ray 3D in 2013. According to, Warner Brothers has slated 'The Wizard of Oz - 3D' for Blu-ray 3D next year. Order 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' Coming to Blu-ray October 9th! Read our review for the non-3D release here. Specs, supplements, and suggested list price haven't been revealed yet. You can find the latest specs for 'The Wizard of Oz - 3D' linked from our Blu-ray Release Schedule, where it's indexed under PENDING. See what people are saying about this story in our forums area, or check out other recent discussions. Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews) The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray) The Wizard of Oz - 3D (Blu-ray)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Wonderful Series of Oz Anime

Cinar The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series 1986/1987

I finally have obtained digital copies of all 52 Episodes from the Cinar Wonderful Wizard of Oz Series. Although Cinar didn't actually make the series this is just a well voiced translation from the Japanese Anime Series Oz no Mahōtsukai. The Series was based upon L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz.

I really enjoyed the Cinar series it was possibly shown in the UK 1989/90 on CITV which rudely and abruptly stopped at China Country episode not even finishing the Wizard of Oz story! I figure it must be around about this time, as I remember it was shown at the same time as Ducktales and I used to love that show as well, at 1989 I would have been 10 at the time! The Cinar series is responsible for me discovering the books due to the end credit listing the 4 books the series was based on, I used this infomration to go to the local library where my mind was then blown by the lists of books that Baum alone wrote!

I used to rent cut down movies of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz movies from local video store the now long defunct Titles Video regularly at only 50p a day.
Frustratingly this video store or any of the others had the cut downs for The Marvelous land of Oz or Ozma of Oz.
I did fortunately manage to get VHS copies of both to buy eventually,  but frustratingly you couldn't get any copies of The Emerald City of Oz to buy! 

Then series was repeated with the entire 52 Episode run on Channel 4 in Mid 1990's which is when I recorded the show on VHS although I was still missing a couple of episodes and the tapes over time were getting a little worse for wear. Then alas VHS died a death and I junked the tapes as they were no use any more, as a lover of new gadgets VHS was rejected in the early 2000’s in our house to make way for DVD only.

For years I have had a copy of the cut downs movies on DVD from America, I really do hate the front cover to the DVD box-set the drawing is very poor. I am pleased now to have the 52 Episode’s as the stories are much better with the full content! Which come in at around 90 mins, the series version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz runs around 6 Hours! So thats a heck of a cut,

There is though sadly one missing element to the 52 Episode series and that is the theme tune is "Searching for a Dream" by the parachute club for every single episode, which is a great song especially for Oz. although on the Cut down VHS/DVD release each "movie" has it own theme all sung by the parachute club.

"Wonderful Wizard of Oz" retains "Searching for a dream"

"Marvelous Land of Oz" has "Listen to your heart"

"Ozma of Oz" has "Taste the rain"

"The Emerald City of Oz" has "Close your eyes"

I especially think that "Listen to your heart" and "taste the rain" are great alternative Oz intro's "close your eyes" the least strong.

I have searched the Parachute club but cannot unfortunately find any full length version of the songs which is shame as I'd love to have them. If anyone knows where I can get full version I would like to know.

As I now have all 52 Episodes I will post further reviews later and some comparisons with the books.

You can currently watch the whole 52 Episode over on Jaroo although they are only showing 4 episodes at a time. 

On the next post I will be back number 9 in my favourite Oz books chart.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

iBooks of Oz: Illustrated

In the first iBooks of Oz post I wrote about how you can get your hands on all the Baum Oz book for free. This time let's look at Baum's Oz illustrated.

So free will get you text only book from the iBooks store, but for .49p you can get the 14 Baum Oz books illustrated by Neill and Denslow! I would always recommend reading Oz with the original illustration's the two go so well together, especially J. R. Neill's illustration's I find it very difficult to read an Oz book without Neill's drawing.

I'm using a purchased Tin Woodman of Oz illustrated by J. R. Neill for this blog post, a snip at only .49p, this also happens to be the first book where I was first introduced to the Neil's Oz drawings and I was instantly enthralled by them, I love this story it is just pure Baum!

Ok .49p isn't going to give you an exact facsimile of the original, you get many of the illustrations.....but not all.

The original cover is included and all 12 cover plates are present, many of the lines drawings are here, there are a number also missing which is a shame!
The major change is the book is not formatted with same font and layouts as the original Oz books, although you can change to font that suits you. This may explain why the book is missing every chapter title illustration from the original,   Each chapter in this version is only presented in plain text, no illustration's.
It appears that the text was as with the free Oz books I wrote about previously from project Gutenberg, the illustration's  appear to have been placed in with the Gutenberg text.

Now there are several benefits an iBook has that a real paper book does not, with the illustrations, if you want to get at an illustration simply double tap any image and it will display the image on it's own for you to pinch and zoom so that you can scrutinise the image in detail.
I have posted you a picture of Ku-Klip constructing the Tin Woodman, you can see the text version and the image after I have double tapped and expanded it you can actually Zoom into the tiniest detail. The only problem with this feature which require the source image to be very high resolution. Sadly the images provided in this book is of low resolution and there is already notable pixelation when an image is fully displayed on the iPad. 
I have compared the image to the one in my Book of Wonder edition and the detail is greater in the printed book.  Again the iBook is only .49p so you cannot really expect that level of detail.

Now another great feature that isn't just for Oz books, you can highlight text, so if I wanted to copy some text in to my blog like so....

"I must admit that I wasn't at all bad looking before I became tin. You're almost handsome—for meat. If your hair was combed, you'd be quite attractive."

"How do you expect me to comb my hair without help?" demanded the Head, indignantly. "I used to keep it smooth and neat, when I had arms, but after I was removed from the rest of me, my hair got mussed, and old Ku-Klip never has combed it for me."

It is easy peasy just simple tap and scroll with your fingers, copying with a minimum of fuss. You can highlight pages as if you have used a pen highlighter for reference or search the web for any definitions within the text. Again a neat little feature is you can leave yourself sticky notes, great for referencing! This feature is available on any iBook not just this one.

I still prefer to have a physical illustrated books for my collection, but how many kids will later be so bothered with  physical book remains to be seen. I can however see the many advantage of having it electronically. You can carry your Oz collection in one device which is around the weight of Hardback or less than a paper back if you have a kindle. You can mark the pages, without ruining your book.  You can get actually at .99p version of the Tin Woodman of Oz and get audio recording of the book as well. These are referred to as enhanced editions, available for all 14 of Baum's Oz books, great if you are visually impaired to as you can expand the text size.

I will definitely be using my iPad to carry around Oz books for referencing. I do feel there is a potential market out the to charge a little more and have facsimiles of the original books, here is hoping someone gets onto this!

On the next iBook post i’ll be looking at interactive Oz books, something physical books  just cannot replicate!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Andrew Lloyd Webber - Wizard of Oz Memories & Memorabilia!

Large Programme

So Nikki Haladay gave us an update on her visit to London at the world famous Palladium, where Judy Garland herself performed, Nikki was lucky to see the Wizard of Oz on Saturday, September the 1st. The show finished on Sunday 2nd after only an 18 months.
I was lucky enough to see the show twice last year, with Original London cast  - 

  • Danielle Hope as Dorothy
  • Michael Crawford as the Wizard 
  • Hanna Waddingham as the Wicked Witch of the West 
  • David Ganly as the Lion
  • Helen Walsh  as Aunt Em

The rest of the cast were as Nikki reported in yesterdays blog post.

Small Programme

Then a Second time with - 

  • Sophie Evans As Dorothy 
  • Marianne Benedict as the Wicked Witch of the West 

I am still very pleased I managed to see the show with both of the main Dorothy’s. I have collected some memorabilia from the show, Two programs one small, one large, the larger one of the two has been singed by Danielle Hope, Micheal Crawford and Sophie Evans. 

Sophie Evans as Dorothy (With Brunette Wig)
The original Cast album and the rare original CD single of Danielle Hope "Over the Rainbow" as her winners song when she won the role of Dorothy in ‘Over the Rainbow” which is a different version to the cast album.
Danielle Hope, I was proud to vote in as Dorothy, made the whole experience that bit more personal to me and she was a lovely person to boot. Her performance as Dorothy was brilliant, although she can sing, I don’t think she was as strong a singer as Judy Garland but then who is? She did give a phenomenal acting performance, with a somewhat feistier Dorothy.

Sophie Evans was great to and she did have a very lovely voice! Again a very lovely to meet.

Hannah Waddingham stole the show her performance of the Wicked of the West was deliciously demonic and it was shame she was only in the role a few months.

Paul Keating made a great Scarecrow,  Tinman - was much tougher than the MGM musical, The Cowardly Lion Gayer than ever actually proclaiming to be a friend of Dorothy.

Danielle Hope As Dorothy &
Michael Crawford as the Wizard
I enjoyed some of the new Musical Numbers

The Red Shoes Blues (see link)
As Good as Home 

I was not a fan of the opening number 
Nobody Understands Me 

Wonders of World for the Wizard is okay.

The only real addition's to production that would appear to have come from L Frank Baum's book that I could note, the Munchkins were all Blue, and the Wicked Witch refers to the Guard as her Winkies, although bizarrely they have Russian accent's, perhaps they were loaned from the Volkov's Russian version of the Wizard of Oz!

As Nikki reported the nicest touch is when Dorothy's return to Kansas, her Ruby Slippers appear in the wardrobe right at the ending showing that it wasn’t all a dream, although this did not answer why she ends up back in her old bedroom, and same fair house that had landed on a Witch. But still it's a little bit of an improvement on the MGM original although the dream thing never really bothered me that much.

Although, I won’t get to see it, I look forward to hearing of news from the Toronto performance due to start at the end of this year. 
Oz Medley 
Oz Medley 
Read Shoes Blues

Me and Sophie Evans
Me and Danielle Hope

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz production at the London Palladium 1st September 2012

Hey Guys!

So I finally got to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz on Saturday September the 1st 2012 at the London Palladium!

Words will not be able to describe the awesomeness I witnessed, and how it touched my heart....(but I'll try!)

Firstly, I have seen at least 6 different productions of The Wizard of Oz and without a doubt, this was the best one I have ever seen by far. I saw Wicked 5 years ago, which was equally wonderful :)

So..Where to start?.... 

Well to begin with here is a list of cast members who played the main characters in the production I saw... :)

DES O’CONNOR                        
Professor Marvel/Doorman/Tour Guide/The Wizard of Oz

SOPHIE EVANS                       

Hickory/Tin Man

Zeke/Cowardly Lion

PAUL KEATING                     

EMILY TIERNEY                  

Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West

KATE COYSTEN                      
Aunt Em/Munchkin Barrister/Ensemble

STEPHEN SCOTT                   
Uncle Henry/Philippe/Head Guard/Ensemble

When I got to the Theatre, it was surrounded by Oz fans of all ages....and there were little girls dressed as cute Dorothy's :) It was a really nice warm atmosphere, and it's so great to see that Oz still has such an impact on different generations :)

My seat was Row R, Seat 39 which was in the stalls and really close to the stage! (balcony was above me) Plus I had nobody sitting in front of me so even better!

As soon as the overture music started playing I got goose pimples all over my body; it was so magical! I swear I shed a tear or two as well :) 
It brought back many happy memories for me.

All the way through the production, my eyes were fixed on the stage. I was smiling throughout and sang along to the songs in my head...Andrew Lloyd Webber had written some new songs for the show which were fantastic! Especially the witch's song :) Below I have listed all the songs featured (new songs in bold lettering) :)

  1. Nobody Understands Me
  2. Over The Rainbow
  3. Wonders Of The World
  4. The Twister
  5. Arrival In Munchkinland
  6. Munchkinland / Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead
  7. Follow The Yellow Brick Road
  8. If I Only Had A Brain / We're Off To See The Wizard
  9. If I Only Had A Heart / We're Off To See The Wizard
  10. If I Only Had The Nerve / We're Off To See The Wizard
  11. We're Outta The Woods
  12. The Merry Old Land Of Oz
  13. Bring Me The Broomstick
  14. Haunted Forest
  15. Red Shoes Blues
  16. Bacchanalia
  17. Red Shoes Blues (Reprise)
  18. Over The Rainbow (Reprise)
  19. If We Only Had A Plan
  20. The Rescue
  21. Hail-Hail! The Witch Is Dead
  22. The Wizard's Departure
  23. Already Home
  24. Finale

Ok...I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent now because I am still so excited about it all! ..So here it goes! ….

Oh man! It was so well done! Very funny parts, extra songs, dances, and Tin man sounded like a deep voiced superhero (can't think who he sounded like, but they portrayed Tin Man as being the most hard core one ;) and he had such a beautiful sexy deep voice! Lol. ) , made the Lion out to be very camp but did it really well, Glinda's dress was sparkling silver, so pretty!!!

They used a big cinema screen as a back drop for the big effects like the tornado, and at one point it looked like you were in it yourself, Dorothy's house got lifted into space before it landed in Oz, and they even made all the munchkins blue .... And so much more!!!'

There was a lovely touch at the end of the production with the ruby slippers.... The wind blew Dorothy's bedroom cabinet open and there and behold were the ruby slippers!!!! :D

When the boys go and rescue Dorothy from the witches castle..... The Scarecrow asks Tin Man if it's going to get violent and Tin Man replies "oh yeah!" he then smirked, held his axe over his shoulder ready for action and then walked off stage :)

And you know at the end of the film when Dorothy says to Scarecrow "I'll miss you most of all" ? Well Lion was like, " what about us?!" and Tin Man was like " yeah, thanks a lot!" lol! Then Dorothy was like " aww don't be silly! I'll miss you loads too' just that Scarecrow was my very first friend in Oz that's why I'll miss him the most!" lol! The other two got jealous hehe.

Sophie Evans was such an amazing Dorothy! She really played the character well....The best Dorothy I have ever seen next to Judy Garland's portrayal, in my opinion! 
The same could also be said about Edward Baker-Duly's portrayal of the Tin Man :) 

….And phew! There are SO many more parts in that show which I totally loved! But thought I’d share just a few moments with you :) Check out the costumes and clips of the show on You Tube, and you'll see what I mean by it all :)

I am hoping they'll put the show on again in my local area, 
because I'd definitely see it again! :)

Of course, I couldn't take any photos or videos inside the Theatre whilst the show was on, but I did take some pictures outside the Palladium for you all to 
look at :) (below).

And sadly, they sold out of programmes but I am hoping eBay will be my saviour where I can buy one from someone.

So that's my wonderful experience and thoughts of finally seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Wizard of Oz. 
A show which will stay with me forever :)

On a similar note, if you haven’t seen Wicked yet, GO SEE IT
That is one great show, trust me ;) 

Ozzy Wishes, 
Nicki Rose xxx

Outside the London Palladium
Inside the Theatre (sorry for the rubbish photo!)

Sophie Evans as Dorothy
Des O'Connor as the Wizard