In & Out of Oz

Detail of a mural at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City

I felt I’d walked right into Oz last month when I entered the Gershwin Theatre to enjoy the Broadway musical “Wicked” with my 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth. Giant murals of scenes from “Munchkinland” and the “Emerald City” line an expansive theater wall. Props from the original film are exhibited inside the theater. Families gather at a special photo booth for pictures set in the land of Oz. And there’s no shortage of green — or sparkle.

We’ve seen the musical “Wicked” several times now, and will happily see it again at every opportunity. The touring production returns to ASU Gammage next year for a Feb. 15-March 11 run. Tickets go on sale Nov. 28. So while others are distracted by “Black Friday” sales, Broadway lovers will be waiting for “Green Monday.”

Folks familiar with books by Gregory Maguire are eagerly awaiting his Nov. 14 appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe — where his new book titled “Out of Oz” will be featured during a discussion, Q & A and booksigning. It’s the final installment of his four-part “Wicked Years” series.

Other books in the series include “Wicked,” “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men.” It’s his first book that inspired the Tony Award winning musical “Wicked.” In “Out of Oz,” a once peaceful and prosperous Oz is “knotted with social unrest” and “wracked by war.”

I’ve always found the social justice piece of “Wicked” its most fascinating strain, so I’m eager to read Maguire’s tale of “the Emerald City mounting an invasion of Munchkinland.”

Still, “Wicked” is for most the tale of two witches — one who sparkles and shines while enjoying glowing popularity, and other scorned for her green skin and less-winning ways. It’s a morality tale with important lessons about friendship and the perils of judging those around us. But first and foremost, it’s a magical spectacle of stagecraft and storytelling.

– Lynn

Note: “Wicked” is one of many shows participating in the 2012 “Kids Night on Broadway” program in NYC. Click here for details. Click here to learn about the wicked women of Goosebottom Books (and watch for a future review of two new titles). And click here for a sneak peek at the “Storytellers 2012″ calendar featuring Gregory Maguire.

Coming up: Broadway’s “Theater Hall of Fame,” If you give a mouse a musical…

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