Saturday, November 22, 2008

Memories of Oz

Last night was opening night of The Wizard of Oz, and I really had hoped to post these staff memories of Oz as part of the opening excitement. Instead, however, I got too wrapped up making this slideshow of pictures from the production.

So, now, here, shortly-delayed, are the favorite The Wizard of Oz memories from SCT staff. We hope you will join us to see this magical production, and create some new memories.

Whenever The Wizard of Oz came on TV at least my little sister and I made sure we watched it. But one of my most vivid memories is that of the “play” production of Oz that my young neighbors (aged 4-12) and I decided to put on in my family’s basement for all of our parents and siblings, replete with a cardboard “balloon," munchkins, yellow paper “brick” road, a toy Toto, and Wizard’s den (our cold storage room which may not have been very visible to our patrons, but we were very young thespians).

Ellen Kesselman
Business Office Associate

I remember the Tinman’s accent in the film very clearly as the first time I recognized a different pattern of speaking than my own.

I also remember the first time I saw the film in colour [Editor's note: Tim's Canadian, thus the "extra" u.] (my parents didn’t like TV and had only a small B&W in their room that I got to watch occasionally (The seem to remember me doing so more than I do;) and being amazed when Dorothy entered OZ.

Seeing the movie in a park on Bainbridge Island was one of the first things I did when I moved here this summer.

Tim Jennings
Managing Director

My favorite memory of Oz has less to do with the actual film, which I don't like so much (I know, I know, I'll get help). My oldest niece, Kiersten, loved "Dorthsee" when she was about 4 years old (she's 14 now - they grow way, way too fast). This was before ALL the stores had those red sparkling shoes, so we went all over the place getting her a pair of "Dorthsee" shoes. My sister made her a costume for Halloween that year and went as the Wicked Witch and dressed my younger niece as Toto. It was definitely my favorite Halloween spent with them.

Jeannette Sanchez
Ticket Office Weekend Supervisor

When I was quite small, we watched The Wizard of Oz on TV when it came on once a year. We had a TV set in the basement, and every time the scary witch came on my siblings and I would retreat up a few steps, until we were practically bending over to peek at the show from the top of the stairs. As soon as the witch melted we would come running back down stairs to watch the end of the show. It wasn't until I was in high school and we got our first color TV that I found out the witch was green and the horse of a different color kept changing colors.

Sarah Mixson
Assistant Production Stage Manager

I remember very clearly the ah ha moment at about age 5 when I realized the significance between the black and white and the color. I remember thinking, “Now I get it. It was a dream!" [Editor's note: Or was it?]

Shelley Saunders
Director of Development

I am old enough to remember watching The Wizard of Oz every year on black and white TV. I cannot remember when I first watched it in color, but the impact was amazing -- stepping out into a world of color, the witch's terrifying green skin, the 'horse of a different color' joke. Even on the crude color T.V. we had back then, it was amazing. This was a common experience for people of my generation, I think. It not only made OZ seem more magical and menacing, it also made Kansas seem almost unbearably heartbreaking.

I have not watched the movie in years, but I do remember 'getting' at least one new thing every year I watched it: Realizing that the farmhands were the OZ companions; that they acquired their desired goals long before they were awarded them by the Wizard. I think the last joke I got (one I am glad to see is in SCT's version) is the deflating lawyerly insertion after the glorious proclamation:

"This is a day of independence
For all the Munchkins and their descendants!

If any."

Don Fleming
Summer Season Producer

My favorite memory of watching The Wizard of Oz is when my high school drama teacher played Lion in a local production. It was so inspiring to see my teacher perform. Until then I had no idea just how talented he was!

Andrea Ichikawa
Program Coordinator

[My wife’s] brother, now working for the US Treasury Department, would run screaming from the living room any time the witch's guards sang the "Oh-WEE-Oh... oh-WHOA-oh" song. He was convinced that if he ate an Oreo cookie, he would turn into one of the guards. "Or-REE-o.. oree-OH-oh"

Andy Jensen
Administrative Manager

We watched the movie on TV every year. It became so ingrained in me, that to this day, when I see the movie or play, I can tell you exactly where the commercial breaks came – “Poor little kid. I hope she gets home alright.” and now a word from Proctor & Gamble.

I also remember going to a neighbor’s house to watch it in color for the first time on their new TV. Suddenly Oz really was magical.

Rita Giomi
Artistic Associate

The Wizard of Oz runs in SCT's Charlotte Martin Theatre through January 17, 2009.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Greenscreen & The Emerald City

We found ourselves in a bit of a scheduling pinch earlier this month, which is to be expected given the ambitiousness of this season. It is just mid-November, and we're already facing our fourth opening since September, fifth if you include The Green Sheep's run in NYC. So, when it came time for the PR photo shoot forThe Wizard of Oz, we didn't have set pieces available to use as backgrounds.

So, we turned to virtual backgrounds instead (fortunately this production makes extensive use of projections, so we had backgrounds ready-made by Projection Designer LB Morse). And, while it isn't exactly cutting-edge, as weather forecasters have been using greenscreen and bluescreen for years and years, we were excited about our first foray into chroma key technology.

Julie Briskman as the Wicked Witch. Photo by Chris Bennion.

What most surprised me was how different the foreground image looks against its new backdrop. I didn't think we had gotten the shot I was looking for with the Wicked Witch, but somehow the dark, foreboding background made everything come together.

Kasey Nusbickel as Dorothy. Photo by Chris Bennion.

The difference here wasn't quite so dramatic, but it did elevate a nice portrait to a more iconic level. She looks movie-poster classic, which is exactly the look and feel we hoped to achieve.

The Wizard of Oz opens this Friday, November 21, 2008, and runs through January 17, 2009.