Produced by Sydney-based company Youngstars2.com, The Wizard of Oz Show has been performed 3800 times internationally to date. (Feb 2014)
The Show boasts of its own popular indoor themed children’s centre in Sydney – The Wizard of Oz Funland, and organizes a large popular Wizard of Oz community festival that features 25 events spread over 20 venues around Sydney’s Macarthur Region.
A long, exciting yellow brick road for a show that had its humble beginnings with a short season at Sydney’s Independent Theatre in June 1999.
The Wizard of Oz Show is a unique and new re-telling of L. Frank Baum’s classic story born of producer/director Brian Laul’s “childhood obsession with all things Oz”. Children are invited to join the Oz Friends – Dorothy, Shakey the Scarecrow, Shiney the Tinman & Scarey the Lion – as they go off to see the Wizard in a fun packed, highly interactive show featuring singing, dancing and lots of wacky characters. Music styles are characteristic and relevant to children of today. Live action is mixed with 3D animation on screen, dazzling lighting effects and colourful costumes.
This show is about more than giving kids a good time. It perpetuates Oz author Frank Baum’s positive message of hope, mateship, self-esteem & self-empowerment to the young and has received outstanding media and public reviews.
“I’ve seen lots of Oz productions but this one was truly extraordinary” – Margaret Pellegrini, Munchkin from the 1939 Judy Garland Oz movie.
The Oz Friends had the honour of being:
• Invited to perform with the last living cast members of the 1939 MGM Oz film in America (2006).
“If great-grandfather was alive, I’m sure he would be clapping, singing along and smiling with your show” – Robert Baum, great-grandson of Oz author Frank Baum.
• Selected by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs & Trade to represent Australia at the International Storytellers Festival, Delhi (2011) and partnered with the Australia-India Council and the Indian Government’s premier cultural force, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. “A fun and unique work for children… leaves lasting memories and brings our countries closer.” – HE Peter Varghese AO, Australian High Commissioner to India.
• Part of the Sydney Children’s Festival 2012.
The Oz Gang have travelled to well over 250 Australian venues, entertaining small communities in remote country towns to large metro audiences at landmark theatres. Such is their unique ability to enthuse sponsors into total participation that ANZ branches have laid out yellow brick roads, dressed up their management & counter staff as Oz characters to welcome the cast and even held in-branch Oz contests for their local communities!
Even local Councils have been encouraged into active participation. Drawing on the Oz books to stress the importance of reading, the show sends an Oz exhibition plus different craft and theming ideas to local libraries.
The Oz Gang have a strong community agenda and try to accommodate requests as they travel. Like the unusual one to bring a show that could be enjoyed by the hearing-impaired in Arana Hills (Queensland 2005). We had the entire Christmas show signed plus song lyrics projected!
“This was the only children’s show that was kind enough to listen to a request we have been making for years so our kids don’t miss out. You have made this Christmas really special for us” – Sally Strawbridge, Deaf Association.
The Oz Gang are also actively involved in Hospital Toy Appeals and visits. They sponsor community efforts like the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer Macarthur, multicultural festivals, work with special needs and disability groups, participate in social awareness campaigns and community fund raisers.
The show’s success led to Brian & Christerine Laul opening of The Wizard of Oz Funland in July 2008. This fully themed, highly interactive kids play, party & entertainment centre has rapidly become a landmark in Sydney’s Macarthur Region. Its uniqueness and intense community involvement even warranted an honourable mention in Parliament!
“A great place for children and congratulations on an altogether fantastic venue.” – Cr Paul Lake, Mayor, Campbelltown City.
Recognising that children today demand more than just passive play, the Funland is a highly interactive venue that seeks to constantly engage its visitors with creative activity. Facilities include Putt Putt golf, Oz Balladrome, playmaze, jumping castle, toddlers play, music & movement for pre-schoolers, face painting, puppet fun, Oz Sound & Light Storytime, karaoke disco, music lessons, multicultural events and lots of Oz memorabilia. The Oz Funland has proved so successful that we will soon be looking for the right partners to open more such venues around Australia, NZ & Asia.
The Show gave Sydney its very first Wizard of Oz Festival that grew from the Seymour Centre’s courtyard to a big carnival at Castle Hill Showgrounds (2003). Margaret Pellegrini (one of the original MGM Munchkins) flew down specially from America as Guest of Honour at the Seymour and much to the public’s delight, she joined the cast on stage for a cameo in Munchkinland! The Seymour season benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Children were also granted a unique wish to “Be A Munchkin” for a day!
In 2013, the Festival spread across 20 venues around Campbelltown with a vibrant and diverse programme designed to include different sections of the community and benefit the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer Macarthur. Channel Nine’s Emma Freedman dressed up as Dorothy to broadcast live for the Morning Show.
In Oct 2014, Laul introduced a new character to his Oz show – Ollie the Optometrist, to get across simple eye care messages to children in a memorable way.
A collaboration with India Vision Institute, initiated by its visionary CEO Vinod Daniel, saw The Wizard of Oz Show featuring Ollie tour India as part of the institute’s awareness campaign. Ollie’s theme song has since been released.
Under the auspices of Rainbow Crossing Inc, the show has pursued an initiative to take drama workshops and performance opportunities to regional Australia from July 2013.
Pre-show workshops introduce children to elements of tableaux, expression and voice. These children then have the exciting opportunity to show off what they’ve learned as they appear on stage in the show.
“It’s a lovely way to enrich their learning experience, one that they will always remember” – Gay Giblett, Principal, La Belle School of Dancing, Lithgow.
Youngstars2.com has very successfully toured other children’s interactive shows including:
The Wizard of Oz Christmas Show: Santa Claus takes the Oz Friends on a magical adventure around the world to discover the true meaning of Christmas. On the way they meet Glinda the Good Witch, Rudolph, Santa’s elves, Snowfairies and others… and go back in time to Bethlehem. Tracks include both traditional favourites and original songs. The cast first performed songs from this show at Carols In The Domain, Sydney (2001) and have since toured the show around New Zealand & Australia.
Cinderella – A Ball for All: From Cinderella’s dirty kitchen to the Royal Ballroom, here’s your favourite fairy tale with a new, fun and totally interactive twist. Do the Pumpkin Mash with the Fairy Godma, the Toodle Doola with dear old King Toodle Doo, even the Teapot Spong with Cinderella’s friend Thelma the talking teapot. Features the Great Kazoo, master storyteller.
Funny Bunny’s Nursery Rhyme Adventure: There’s chaos in Nursery Rhyme Land after Wonky Wizard has cast a wicked spell over the kingdom. Old King Cole’s crown won’t stay on his head anymore and his throne keeps running away from him, Jack-Be-Nimble has been turned into a statue, Mary has lost her faithful lamb….. Even Super Winston fails to save the day! Only YOU and Princess Lily can help Funny Bunny and his best friend Bushman Bob set everything right in this exciting, highly interactive show with lots of singing, dancing and wacky characters.
The Wizard of Oz Show (2002, updated in 2005). Special features later added to interest parents and grandparents included interviews with Oz royalty like the Baums (the author’s great grandsons), original MGM Munchkins (Lollipop Kid, Coronor, Flowerpot Munchkin) among others, done at the world’s largest annual Oz Festival at Chesterton USA .
The Wizard of Oz Christmas Show (2003) & Cinderella – A Ball for All (2007) followed.
Activity Books, T-Shirts, Oz Character Costumes, Clocks, Oz Dolls & Fridge Magnets are some of the other souvenirs available.
The company is now looking to Television to take it to the next level. This will undoubtedly:
• Enhance the visibility of the Live Show;
• Lead to the increased marketability of spin off products like DVDs and Books;
• Open doors to overseas sales of the Oz TV series, performances & related merchandise.