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Royal Grandmother (and Granddaughter) of Oz, The

Fullmer, Richard
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Lopez, Jon William

ONCE UPON A TIME...many years ago, a little girl named Dorothy Gale discovered a magical country named Oz. Without meaning to, merely by being herself, she managed to kill two wicked witches and thus free Oz from their tyranny. She also, again without meaning to, exposed the phony Wizard who had been running Oz for decades. All she was trying to do was to get back to her home in Kansas—back to a life and a country she knew and understood—but on her way home, she managed to help three very unusual friends find the things they most wanted in life. She helped the scarecrow get brains, helped the tin man get a heart, and encouraged the cowardly lion to become brave and terrifying. Then she went home. Like almost everyone else in the civilized world, I watched Judy Garland go over the rainbow, then devoured the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. I grew up and became an actor, then a director, and then a writer/director of radio plays for children. In 1959, with a BFA in Theatre Arts from the University of Utah, I got a job at the Sacramento Civic Theatre—as janitor. My non-salaried position was Children’s Theatre Director. In that capacity, I wrote and directed Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, Jack & the Beanstalk, Snow White, The Dancing Princesses, The Yellow Knight of Oz, and The Enchanted Nutcracker. I also directed the “approved” dramatic version of Baum's original The Wizard of Oz, (NOT the MGM version) and played the Wizard. The production won raving accolades in the local papers and was extended for an additional 4-weekend run, making local Children’s Theatre history. More than 2800 kids watched Dorothy solve everybody’s problems—then go home. Recently I received an email from the woman who played Dorothy in that production, Carol Elias, sending me a poster of the new Andrew Lloyd Weber stage-adaptation of the MGM musical. One of her comments was: “I sometimes wonder what Oz would be like if Dorothy went back as a Grandma?” The Royal Grandmother (& Granddaughter) of Oz is the answer to her question.

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