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Broadcast premiere this weekend of 'Wonderful Wizard of Oz'
"Co-director and producer Judith Walcutt of Freeland enjoys a production break with Robert Guillaume.The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Centennial Celebration, will be broadcast on Public Radio International during the Thanksgiving 2000 season. It can be heard locally on KUOW 94.9 FM on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23 and 24, from 9-11 a.m. each day. It will be released as a multiple CD set, featuring an introduction by fantasy writer and Oz fan, Ray Bradbury.Two Freeland residents who have a passion for the spoken word and its unique place in radio drama have adapted yet another work of literature to the theater of the mind. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Centennial Celebration is a full-length, completely dramatized audio treatment of the immortal children's story by L. Frank Baum, first published in 1900. It has been produced by Judith Walcutt's Otherworld Media and directed by David Ossman. Ossman, a member of the Grammy-nominated Firesign Theater (heard in the production as The Hammerheads), is the writer of numerous adaptations for audio, including the infamous 1938 Howard Koch/Orson Welles script updated for The War of the Worlds 50th Anniversary Production. He and Walcutt have assembled an all-star cast to play the roles of the residents of Oz and the travelers to the Emerald City: Phyllis Diller as The Wicked Witch of the West; John Goodman as the Guardian of the Gates; Annette Bening as Glinda the Good Witch; and Harry Anderson as The Wizard.Robert Guillaume is the Cowardly Lion an older guy who feels life has passed him by); film heavy Nestor Serrano plays the Tin Woodman (His humanity is still there, he just can't recognize it); Rene Auberjonois is the Scarecrow (the best drawn character, learning something every moment); and Michelle Tractenberg, who was Harriet the Spy and recently joined the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Buffy's sister, is Dorothy. Comic actor Phil Proctor is Toto (Yes, Toto speaks).There are other famous names: Mark Hamill, Michael Learned, Norman Corwin, Joanna Gleason. Maurice La Marche, the voice of The Brain on Pinky and the Brain, plays dual roles in Munchkinland, and Ray Bradbury, one of America's best-loved and most prolific writers, performs the introduction.Many of the actors approached us for a role, Walcutt said. Ray Bradbury is a life-long Oz fan. Phyllis Diller said, 'This part is me!' And we auditioned 15 girls for the part of Dorothy.The script for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a dramatization, not an adaptation, and does not have a narrator.The story is told through the dialogue of the characters, Ossman said. Using a narrator can short circuit the development of the characters. The script, he said, is true to the original book and its characterizations, allowing a listening audience of all ages to actively imagine the Ozian adventures of Dorothy and her friends.Digital soundscapes and special effects enhance the drama, along with the musical score by Scott Nagatani, who bases it on tunes from the turn of the century, some written by Baum himself.They are songs and melodies his readers would have heard themselves, Ossman said. It's authentic stuff, period songs, like The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Skip to My Lou. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a production of the Children's Museum of Los Angeles, timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of America's first fairy tale. It will create a legacy fund to help support the museum as it expands into two new campuses in the coming years. "