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Further Stage Adventures in Oz, Part Forty-two: Oz Carries On

Joe Cascone returned (but his mustache didn't) as L. Frank Baum.
Joe Cascone returned (but his mustache didn't) as L. Frank Baum.
Photo property of the Toronto Civic Light Opera Company

One hundred years after the publication of L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the James P. Doyle – Joe Cascone musical of the same title saw its premiere.

The 2010 cast of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
Arda Zakarian, photographer

One hundred years after Baum and Paul Tietjens’s musical extravaganza The Wizard of Oz first hit the stage in Chicago, Doyle and Cascone’s musical had its first revival.

And although it may not have been in Joe’s mind at the time (though I’d be surprised if it wasn’t), one hundred years after the first film adaptation of Wizard, he once more brought Wonderful Wizard back to the Toronto stage.

Once more taking the dual role of Baum and the Wizard. Joe was joined by many returning stalwarts, including David Haines as the Cowardly Lion, Sandi Horwitz as Locasta, Julie Lennick as the Wicked Witch of the West, Susan Sanders (mother of former Dorothy Kelly Sanders) now playing Aunt Em, Carol Kugler as the Queen of the Field Mice, and even Jesse as Toto.

Bryan Chamberlain also returned as the Tin Woodman; indeed, he returned to a role which had pretty much been written with him in mind. As Joe told a newspaper reporter regarding when the original version of the show first went into production, “Bryan was already in mind for the part. We considered his very strong singing voice and unique styling when we wrote the show.”

The Scarecrow was given new life by Damien Gulde, Glinda was now played by Andrea Strayer, and two new Dorothy Gales appeared (the role once more being alternated): Alisa Berindea and Olivia Stupka.

As with the 2002 production, Joe found himself modifying the show. “I had to do a lot of revisions to the score and lyrics, which was tough, although I tried to keep our original intentions in the forefront of my mind the whole time.”

Though your humble History of Oz Examiner was not able to get to Toronto see this production, by all accounts it was as brilliant as its predecessors, and young Miss Stupka evidently wowed the crowd on opening night and with all her subsequent appearances.

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