Ease on down to Ashland for Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 'The Wiz'

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by LINCOLN KAY

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Lincoln Kaye is visiting Ashland Oregon, home to Southern Oregon University and the award-winning and internationally-known regional theatre company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The closest approximation of a homegrown, made in U.S.A.  uhr-myth has to beThe Wizard of Oz. The L. Frank Baum children’s classic – the saga of a Kansas pre-teen, tornado-tossed into a surreal dream world where she befriends talking beasts and mannequins, quells witches, frees slave-elves and debunks a phony godman – melds all the ingredients of an archetypal hero-quest. The story has given rise, over the past century, to a series of books, as well as multiple stage plays, musicals and films. In the 1970’s, at the trailing edge of a decade of Civil Rights Movement triumphs, the music-and-lyrics duo of Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown came out with an all-black version, The Wiz, which was then parlayed into a hit movie with an all-star Motown cast. But now the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has revived The Wiz in what may be its unlikeliest incarnation yet: a full-dress masque in the grand 17th century tradition, as befits the Tudor splendour of Ashland’s outdoor Elizabethan Theatre.

Read the full report on VancouverObserver.com >