An open casting call for children and "little people" to play Munchkins in the upcoming Wizard Of Oz is set for March 22, starting at 8:30 AM. Boys and girls, 8-14 are invited, as are all humans under 4'10" (yes, they will measure you).
Also sought are "unique voices" and performers with "lots of spunk and character." Be prepared to sing and dance the chorus of "Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead." Julie Hughes and Barry Moss are casting the show, which is directed by Robert Johanson and choreographed by Jamie Rocco. For more information on the audition, call the "munchkin HOT LINE" at (212) 465 6773.
Roseanne, the wisecracking self-styled "domestic goddess" whose Emmy winning self-titled TV show is in its last season, will play the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in the production, opening May 7 at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Madison Square Garden announced the surprise casting Jan. 31. A staffer at Carsey-Werner Productions, producer of "Roseanne," who did not wish to be identified, told Playbill On-Line that Roseanne had been talking about doing the role in New York.
According to MSG spokesperson Kathy Del Priore, the show should be fully cast before March 15, with a Dorothy and Wizard chosen before then. (Though they were both under consideration for the Wizard, Dick Van Dyke and Christopher Lloyd will not be in the show.) The Paper Mill/MSG staging is adapted by John Kane from the film screenplay, maintaining the score by Harold Arlen and E.Y. ("Yip") Harburg ("Somewhere Over The Rainbow," "If I Only Had A Brain"). The Witch has no songs in the piece, but, as performed by Margaret Hamilton in the film, the role made a memorable impact.
The MSG theatre, bolstered by the success of its now-perennial Christmas Carol, said it is hoping to build Oz into an annual event.
Roseanne has received a Best Actress Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards for her TV series, now in its ninth year. "Roseanne is a one-of-a-kind artist," producer Tim Hawkins said in a statement, "a lightning rod to many, but undeniably an important voice and a marvelous actress. She prommises to be a formidable Wicked Witch. We think she and our audiences are going to have a great time."
Who will appear opposite the comedienne-turned-actress as Dorothy? An open casting call was held Feb. 19, with callbacks and a "Toto" search to follow.
Based on the Oz books by Frank Baum, Wizard Of Oz is best known for its 1939 Judy Garland film incarnation and its adaptation into the Stephanie Mills starrer, The Wiz.
Beginning/opening May 7 for 48 performances through June 1, the MSG Wizard will run 90 minutes, a bit shorter than the Paper Mill version. The show has not yet been cast but will be directed by Paper Mill artistic director Robert Johansen, who staged the piece at his home theatre. James Rocco choreographs, Paper Mill resident designer Michael Anania will do the set, Gregg Barnes will design the costumes, and Tim Hunter will create the show's lighting.
Paper Mill spokesperson Dennis Dougherty told Playbill On-Line the producers are hoping this Wizard Of Oz will be an annual production, like MSG's Christmas Carol. "They're taking a new design and a new approach to the show because of the possibilities of Madison Square Garden. I mean, the tornado at Paper Mill was done with lighting, strobes, and they flew a miniature house across the stage. Who knows what they can do at the Garden..."
In other MSG theatre news, Walter Bobbie has been signed to direct a stage version of Footloose, based on the hit 1984 film starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon. Dan Schoenberg, the Garden's director of publicity, had no further information on the show (e.g., casting, adaptation team) but did say the goal is to open the show spring or summer 1998 and then take it on tour -- much as they're doing with Oz.
Play casting director: suggest a cast to complement Roseanne in the production. Take our Playbill Poll in Theatre News.
--By David Lefkowitz