Injecting Your Vision Into THE WIZARD OF OZ With Set Design

Lincoln High SChool's production of the WIZARD OF OZTHE 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

TheatreWorld's Black and White Prairie Farm backdrop used in WIZARD OF OZ opening scenes.

Our Black and White Prairie Farm is a popular choice for Auntie Em’s Farm.


TheatreWorld's Black and White Prairie Farm backdrop with gold lighting

With proper lighting and a fly system our Black and White Prairie Farm has a new visual tone.

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

TheatreWorld's Hanted Forest backdrop used in a IZARD OF OZ production by Brookville High

Our Haunted Forest backdrop was designed for THE WIZARD OF OZ & has supported many productions.

Stage Productions Family Theatre usinf TheatreWorld's Extremely Dark Forest backdrop

our Extremely Dark Forest backdrop is highly suitable for 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

TheatreWorld'sDragon's lair backdrop used in a production of WIZARD OF OZ

Our Dragon’s Lair backdrop used in combination with targeted lighting creates a unique Wicked Witch’s Castle.


Depending upon your vision our Phantom’s Grotto backdrop may be ideal for the Wicked Witch’s abode.

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?

Use Shading to Your Advantage With Black and White Backdrops

Colorization is one of the most important aspects of scenic design. A careful combination of the right shades and tones can turn an already great design into a stunning piece of imagery. In many cases our Creative Team looks to tastefully blend a variety of vibrant colors in order to visually convey an overall feeling and tone in our backdrops. Recently we realized that we hadn’t been paying a certain family of colors its due. While bright blues, reds, and yellows can and do create incredible imagery, gray scale and black and white backdrops also have a very powerful visual effect.

Some productions and events need a good dose of antiquity in order to really convey the Director’s or Planner’s vintage vision. Other times, our clients’ creative minds are after an ominous feeling for a particular scene or even their entire event. While we do have a variety of vividly colored backdrops that can assist with these needs, adding in a selection of drops that rely on more muted tones is necessary in order to provide the truly best selection of stage and event backdrops in the industry. Even though our Artists might not have as many colors on their palette, there is no shortage of artistry in these drops. Precise blending and shading are of the utmost importance when our Artistic Team sets out to paint any of our grayscale or black and white backdrops. We could talk about the benefits of these backdrops all day, but hey, it’s imagery so let’s take a look.

Our Creative Team originally developed our Dragon’s Lair as part of our SHREK THE MUSICAL backdrop suite. Based on the underground chambers of the Chillon Castle, this drop is the perfect home for Dragon, but has also found a part in productions like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and at a variety of themed events. The original design favors the look of the brownstones of Chillon Castle. In order to update the design for clients with different visions, our Artistic Team took the brownstone and relied on a combination of gray and black, then added in just a touch of sunlight to help the architecture stand out.

Dragon's lair backdrop designed for SHREK THE MUSICAL

TheatreWorld's Dragon's Lair Graystone backdrop




General imagery plays an important part in many productions. While our intricately detailed drops are often designed to allow Directors to reduce the amount of set pieces that are necessary to set a scene, some visions call for imagery that truly represents the background and the background alone. With this in mind our Creative Team developed a series of backdrops that depict rural landscapes. As details are constantly important, we have three different options to choose from: our Black and White Wheatfield, Black and White Cornfield, and our just released Black and White Soybean Field. Depending upon your crop of choice, you can set the tone of your stage or event with black and white backdrops that convey a vintage or even spooky tone. These backdrops can work just as well for setting the scene for Auntie Em’s farm in THE WIZARD OF OZ as they can for creating an eerie tone, when combined with balanced lighting and jack-o-lanterns, at events that call for Halloween backdrops. We look forward to talking to even more clients about how they intend to use black and white imagery to their advantage.

TheatreWorld's Black and White Cornfield backdrop

theatreWorld's black and white soybean field backdrop





These newest black and white and grayscale designs are just the beginning. Our Creative Team is looking for more scenes and analyzing trends in the dance and event industries right now in order to identify even more designs that can be beautifully portrayed in these color schemes. Expect more to come just as soon as we have wrapped up production on entire show packages for a trio of popular productions.

Turnaround Arts Gives the Theatrical Community a Boost

Everyone who is involved in the Fine Arts knows how much value they bring to society, and how much they help children develop into well rounded adults. Unfortunately those who aren’t directly involved don’t always understand the profound effects that Fine Arts education can have on other areas of academic and social development. That is why we are glad to keep hearing about updates from Turnaround Arts, a federally sponsored initiative to bring Fine Arts education to the schools that need it most.

turnaround arts logo with actors on stageTurnaround Arts exists within the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Their mission is to identify “turnaround schools” that could use additional funding and planning in their Fine Arts programs. They provide mentoring, licensing to scripts, musical instruments and even have celebrity partners that pair up with individual schools and get personally involved. To show how much this assistance affects change Turnaround Arts reports that schools that they work with have benefited from:  a 36% increase in academic test scores in the nation’s capital, and three times the improvement in math and reading test scores verse the state average in New Orleans among other accolades.

What we love seeing is that they focus a portion of their efforts on musical theatre. We all know that funding for and existence of musical theatre programs around the country is not on the top of everyone’s list. This effort is directly helping to revive, and even create drama departments in schools. Music Theatre International is also getting involved. They are providing complimentary scripts and licensing of show selections from their Broadway Junior Collection to participating schools. The Junior Collection, which takes full scripts and tones down the length of the show and simplifies the score for younger casts, is perfect for school aged actors who are new to musical theatre. By providing complimentary licensing MTI is making it that much more possible for smaller programs to participate in musical theatre. Not every school has a huge budget, every penny that a smaller program can save is vital.


TheatreWorld’s Mountain Meadow backdrop provides generalized imagery at a price that is more attainable by smaller troupes.

Here at TheatreWorld we have been watching this and similar programs develop for some time now. It is phenomenal to see that money is being put back into the Arts after so much has been taken away. On our side we sat down with our Creative Team months back and set out to develop a collection of smaller sized stage backdrops. These drops, we call them the Cabaret Series, are specifically developed to provide themed yet general scenery. The thought is that if we can provide a smaller

black and white wheat field stage backdrop

TheatreWorld’s Black and White Wheat Field can support a variety of full shows.

drop that can apply to an entire show at a price that is attainable by even a small theatre department, then we can help support more theatrical troupes nationwide. At 20’ x 10’ these drops can be set up in small theaters, but are also ideal for cafeterias and other impromptu staging areas that smaller programs create on the fly. It just seemed like smaller programs were being left out. Why shouldn’t they be able to put on a performance with professional production values? Even if it means limiting the production of some of our larger backdrops we are willing to make the switch to help support smaller schools and theatrical departments. So far we have backdrops that can individually support Junior level theatrical productions including: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, INTO THE WOODS, and more. In addition to smaller backdrops our Creative team has set out to produce a breadth of more generalized imagery in larger sizes. While our artistic standards haven’t changed, we have opted to release these backdrops at a more moderate price than selections from our Signature Series in order to accommodate theatrical departments who do not have the luxury of an enormous budget. We look forward to planning even more designs, and have many scheduled for production in the next few months.

We would love to hear about how you or your organization has seen this or similar programs improve the artistic and academic climates in your community. Proactive plans like this are a breath of fresh air considering all of the hits that lack of funding has delivered to The Arts in years past. The truth is that The Arts should be a predominate part of a well-rounded educational system. They pay off in more ways than providing entertainment; they expand the minds of young people and help with overall academic development.


More Designs, More Sizes, Signature Artistry

After months of evaluating the most popular show and event themes, and a good dose of feedback from you, we are happy to announce that we have finalized our backdrop production schedule through the fall.  We plan on producing well over 100 new drops during the next few months.  A third of the upcoming drops will showcase completely new designs which will update current show themes and event categories, as well as allow us to roll out Signature Series Show Packages for even more scripts. Expect to have access to considerably more designs in our 20’ by 10’ Cabaret and Party Series, as well as more choices for larger venues that require 48’ x 20’ drops.

Brand New Show Packages on the Horizon


THE NUTCRACKER ballet logoHave you chosen your holiday production yet? Our Artistic Team is hard at work finalizing designs and beginning production on new backdrops specifically for THE NUTCRACKER. Drawing inspiration from art and architecture associated with the Baroque and Victorian Eras, the creative minds of our Artistic Team have a series of drops on the way that convey class and elegance. The upcoming designs will provide supporting imagery for every scene and offer a selection wide enough to accommodate every vision. This upcoming holiday production season, you can be among the first to support your productions with TheatreWorld’s brand new backdrop suite for THE NUTCRACKER.


THE ADDAMS FAMILY show logoSpooky and kooky have come together in the form of our brand new show package for THE ADDAMS FAMILY. We have four designs that provide all of the most needed imagery for this hit show releasing in coming weeks. While they were designed for Gomez, Morticia, and the rest of the gang, these new drops will be the perfect edition to Halloween productions and themed events that need a good dose of scary.

Mary Poppins

MARY POPPINS show logoThe rights to MARY POPPINS are expected to be available from Music Theater International this fall. In order to support your productions as soon as the rights are available, we have developed a show package of four drops solely for this much-anticipated script. When used in combination with our current drops, Directors and Stage Managers will have access to the most comprehensive selection of MARY POPPINS backdrops in the industry. We can’t wait to see how your unique interpretations bring this script to life!

We haven’t forgotten about your other favorite shows. THE WIZARD OF OZ, ALL SHOOK UP, BIG FISH, and MUSIC MAN are also getting imagery updates very soon. Unfortunately we can’t share draft sketches with you as we have in years past. In order to pay the shows the respect that they deserve, we are opting to introduce our new designs as full show packages, and then release them into the wilds of the theatrical world to play a small role in your productions. Don’t worry Planners and Dance Professionals, we have several designs geared directly towards the themes that resound in the Event and Recital worlds as well. In fact, many new designs are already available; you can check out all of our Latest backdrops on our website.

West Potomac High Earns 19 Cappie Nominations for Their Production of MONTY PYTHON’s SPAMALOT

West Potomac high's cast in fron of TheatreWorld's Castle Portcullis backdropPutting on a production that allows students to improve upon their singing, acting and design skills, “wows” audiences, and gets nominated for 19 National Capitol Area Cappie Awards is a feat that deserves attention. That is exactly what the team at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia did with their recent production of MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT. We are honored that they chose to use selections from our SPAMALOT backdrops collection to play a small role in their scenery and overall production.

What Does it Take to Earn 19 Cappie Nods?

For those who aren’t familiar with them, The Cappies “Critics and Awards Program” is the annual awards gala put on by individual chapters representing 13 regions in both the United States and Canada. The Cappies themselves are designed to teach students more about the theatrical community, assist them in properly critiquing productions, and to give them exposure in high profile national and regional publications that publish their Production Reviews. Each year each chapter nominates high school level theatrical programs within their region to receive awards for various aspects of their productions. No aspect of the theatrical production is left out, as the Cappies recognize theatrical troupes for technical, creative, and performance awards. Being nominated for one is an honor. Being nominated for 19 speaks to the hard work and dedication put into the show.

How Did West Potomac do it?

West Potomac High's Cast in front of TheatreWorld's Dark and Extremely Expensive Forest backdropPhilip Lee Clark leads the theatre department at West Potomac High and directs shows that their young casts and tech crews produce under the flag of the Beyond the Page Theatre Company. Clark decided to go with a script that incorporated comedy, great musical numbers, and a variety of scenic settings, finally deciding upon MONT PYTHON’S SPAMALOT. He knew Soloist from West Potomac High's SPAMALOT in front of TheatreWrold's Red and Gold Drapesthat his team would have a lot of script memorization, rehearsal, and set design to tackle in order to make the production a success. He quickly got to work, casting students and assigning roles. No scene or musical number of Python-esque pun was left out. The costumes and makeup that Clark and his team put together were truly professional grade, easily rivaling any touring production. They chose West Potomac High's cast in front of TheatreWorld's Stylized Vegas Wedding Chapel backdropTheatreWorld Backdrops’ SPAMALOT inspired: Castle Portcullis, Stylized Vegas Wedding Chapel Castle, Dark and Extremely Expensive Forest and Red and Gold Drapes, and combined them with Our Feathered Fairy Tale Sky and Breaking Through the Clouds sky backdrops. Then their scenic team finished off the job with a variety of superbly crafted set pieces.

After diligent rehearsals, painstakingly detailed scenic design sessions, and no doubt a good amount of laughs, Clark’s team shared one of Broadway’s most decorated shows with audiences of all ages. The young critics and mentors from the national Capitol Area Chapter of the Cappies were in attendance and immediately became enthralled. Alexander Warren of George Mason High School had this to say about the show:

What really took this show over the top however was the talent bringing it to life. The young actors, actresses, singers, dancers, builders, painters, choreographers, costume designers, and whistlers of West Potomac High School devoted themselves to pushing their respective crafts as far as they could go. Everything was simply superb. The cast was truly all singing, all dancing. There was no noticeable weak link, even in the largest of spectacular group numbers. Boy, were they spectacular. Fringe, glitter, sparkles, beautifully painted backdrops, rising to reveal wonderfully crafted, rotating sets, a gigantic Trojan Rabbit, a bedazzled yarmulke, a bedazzled baby carriage, a neon Star of David a story high, beautiful girls in revealing clothing, scrawny boys in clothing that revealed even more, girls dressed as men, men dressed as girls, a killer bunny rabbit, a quadriplegic Black Night, a wedding, tap routines, whistling routines, elaborately choreographed umbrella routines. I would dismiss that description as one of Stefan’s hottest clubs in New York if I hadn’t seen it yesterday with my own eyes. The only sad thing about the whole affair is that not everyone in the DMV was able to see it.

With reviews like that, it is no surprise at all that this production received 19 National Capitol Area Cappie nods. The production, as well as the student critics from Beyond the Page Theatre Company, received nominations for all facets of a theatrical production, from acting, to set design to choreography. (Get the full list of nominations here.) The awards ceremony is this Sunday, June 8, 2014 in the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  Student actors and tech crew members will be on-hand at the gala performing “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” live for the audience. Please join us in wishing everyone involved in West Potomac High’s theatrical team the best of luck at the awards gala. Their hard work and dedication is certainly worthy of the recognition that they are in store for.