Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Marvelous Land of OZ (1981)

"The Marvelous Land of OZ" 1981.  L to R: Christopher Passi, Carl Beck,
Rana Haugen, Gary Briggle, Stephen Boe.

The final production of The Children's Theatre Company and School's 1980-81 season was a new musical adaptation of the second book in the beloved OZ series of tales by L. Frank Baum entitled "The Marvelous Land of OZ."

Originally, the production was to be mounted by a guest writer/director but, ultimately, his concepts were felt not to be a good aesthetic match with the Company and so, fairly last-minute, the production team changed.  Artistic Director John Clark Donahue assumed the role of stage director and Thomas W. Olson, resident playwright who previously that season had created the scripts for "The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant" and "The Clown of God," quickly began working on a new adaptation, while Gary Briggle was engaged to write lyrics with Richard A. Dworsky's music.  Myron Johnson served as Associate Director and Choreographer.  Jack Barkla created the scenic design, Barry Robison the costumes, Karlis Ozols the lighting design, and sound design by Robert Jorissen and John Lupori.  Stage management by Michael L. Hennen. 

The cast was led by young student actor Christopher Passi as Tip, with Wendy Lehr as Mombi, Carl Beck as Jack Pumpkinhead, Julee Cruise as General Jinjur and Suzanne Petri as her Colonel, Gary Briggle as the Scarecrow, Stephen Boe as the Tin Woodsman, Rana Haugen as Jellia Jamb, Tom Dunn as the Wogglebug, Kathleen Wegner as Glinda, and Garth Schumacher, Steve Huke, Oliver Osterberg, and James McNee in featured roles. 

The remainder of the large cast included Lynn Anderson, Andrea Bebel, Gary Costello, Libby Croteau, John Cunningham, Lisa Dante, Michael deLeon, Sally Dworsky, Melissa Finnson, Kristen B. Froebel, Andrea Franchett, Molly B. Gilbert, Heather Gorecki, David A. Gray, Tracy Harrison, Amy Harsha, Keith Herron, Catie Hinchey, Stacey Howatt, Sonya Kostich, Kate McKillip, Sean McNellis, Michael Monroney, Sarah Napier, Kris Neville, Peter Passi, Elizabeth Piper, Devi Piper, Angela B. Prokop, Chris Ryan, Truda Stockenstrom, Lily Iran Vakili, Mary Walker, Julie Warder, Jon Westgaard, Elizabeth White, Lori Williams, and Gabrielle Zuckerman.

The orchestra was conducted by Thomas F. Florey.  Composer Richard Dworsky served as alternate conductor.  Musicians: Oboe - Julie Madura, Clarinet - Barbara Stucki, Trumpet - Joe Morrisey, Dave Jenson, Horn - Boris Rybka, Trombone - Steve Lund, Dave Sorenson, Bass - David Berg, Piano - Hiram Titus, Richard Dworsky, Synthesizer - Greg Theisen, Percussion - Jay Johnson.

Running Crew included Helene Wasserman and Liz Fink as Assistant Stage Managers, and Doug Pipan, Lesley Moore, Elizabeth Hardy, Loren Johnson, Mike Murnane, Rich Rummel, Andy Sullivan, Wanda Copland, Peter Sullivan, Renate Graf, Andrea Zuckman, Lawrence Fried, Karyn Edenlof, Chris Huttner, Tim Koering, Terry Moose, Fred Schissel, Sabra Thurber, William Wilson.

At the time, ticket prices were $6.95 for adults and $4.95 for children, general seating.  Using web-based inflation calculators, this translates to a 2011 equivalent of $16.85 for adults and $12.00 for children.  (In 2011, CTC charges for reserved seating tickets to its production of the Broadway musical "Annie" were $39.50 to $49.50 for adults and $29.50 to $34.50 for children - more than double -- nearly TRIPLE --  the price the theatre used to charge.)  Wow.  It appears back in 1981 a large cast original world premiere musical was quite a value!

With "The Marvelous Land of OZ," the Company embarked on a three-year relationship with professional video producers The Television Theatre Company, shutting down the theatre for two weeks at the end of the season and transforming the auditorium into a video soundstage.  The following winter, "The Marvelous Land of OZ" was distributed by MCA/Universal for cablecast on Showtime/HBO (winning a cable ACE award for outstanding family entertainment) and was also made available for home purchase on videocassette.

Video clip 1:

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