THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of the most popular productions in all of musical theatre. The story is known and loved by audiences of all ages. Directors have access to four, yes four, different scripts that allow them to share this production in a way that meets the capabilities of their cast, and best shares their vision of Dorothy and her trip to and from the magical Land of Oz. With an abundance of scripts, professional costume options, and no limit to the extent to which Stage and Lighting Designers can utilize lighting, set pieces and WIZARD OF OZ backdrops, this is one production that can truly be tapered to your exact vision.
Choosing the Best Script
The most popular versions of THE WIZARD OF OZ are based on the storyline shared in the cinematic adaptation first released in 1939. Licensing for these adaptations is available from Tams Witmark. If you have an older cast then you will select either the MUNY version or R.S.C. version of the show. Both include all of the musical numbers made famous by the movie, however they differ slightly in their presentation.
- The MUNY version contains the key elements and plotlines of the movie, but is geared towards being performed on-stage. The presentation calls for fewer effects and the script is written to be designed and performed as a traditional stage show. If you have a high school aged cast this may be the script for you.
- The R.S.C. version embraces the movie and brings it to life on-stage. It requires more technical effects and is more demanding vocally for your chorus and actors. If you have a larger casts, more advanced vocalists, and a fly system available then this is your WIZARD OF OZ.
If you have a young cast, then you still have two scripts to choose from. One from Tams Witmark and another from Musical Theatre International.
- Tams Witmark’s WIZARD OF OZ – Young Performers’ Edition is ideal for Directors who have middle or grade school aged casts. The script is reduced to a one hour run time, yet it still contains critical scenes, popular musical numbers, and the feel of the film version.
- Musical Theatre International licenses the Prince Street Players version of THE WIZARD OF OZ. This script is part of MTI’s Theatre for Young Actors collection making it ideal for Directors with grade and middle school aged casts and crews. It is important to note that this version is based upon the original book, and as such does not contain all of the musical numbers and finite details associated with the film.
Key Scenes to Make Your Mark
Auntie Em’s Farm
One of the first decisions that you will have to make is how to set the initial scenes that take place in Kansas. If you are sharing the Tams Witmark version and want to mirror that exact presentation then your opening scene(s) will be presented in black and white. Grayscale set pieces and costumes can be used in tandem with black and white stage backdrops to easily pull this off. TheatreWorld’s selection of WIZARD OF OZ backdrops contains a variety of black and white backdrops, from a full on farm up to general agricultural fields, to support scenes based in Kansas. If you want a different feel then you can opt for color in your opening scenes. Many Directors have combined vibrant set pieces and colorful backdrops (all of our black and white backdrops for WIZARD OF OZ are also available in color) to give their rendition of the show a modern update.
The Haunted Forest
Dorothy and company’s trip through the Haunted Forest also allows Directors and Set Designers to put their own touch on the show. While our Creative Team has designed a drop specifically to support a traditional view of the Haunted Forest, many directors opt to search our selection of forest backdrops in order to find the imagery that speaks to how they envision the Haunted Forest. While the “darker” designs almost always win out some Directors have opted for realistic looking forestry, and added “haunted” elements via set pieces and stage lighting. When it comes down to it the visuals are yours to control and present as you see fit. Creating the exact sets that you have in mind is a fully attainable goal.
The Wicked Witch’s Castle
When it comes to the Wicked Witch’s Castle Directors and Stage Designers have even more free range. Some select a traditional castle interior while many opt for background imagery with a darker tone to mirror that of the Wicked Witch herself. Everything from our brick-laden Dragon’s Lair to our subterranean Phantom’s Grotto backdrop have both been selected to set the scene of the Witch’s Castle. While the Prince Street Players version is most technically set in a dungeon, the latter drop is a popular addition to Tams Witmark versions as well.
Even the most classic scripts can be tailored to meet your vision. When a Director or Stage Designer adds their perception of the storyline to the on-stage imagery then they have made their mark on the script. THE WIZARD OF OZ is yet another production that allows you to show off your artistic prowess. Musical theatre is based in creativity, shouldn’t your sets be an extension of yours?