Going beyond the ‘Wizard of Oz’

Sarah Braun, Helen Sher, Michael Trainer and David Ferrier take the stage in this adaptation of three L. Frank Baum tales.  Credit: Gerald van Wilgen
Sarah Braun, Helen Sher, Michael Trainer and David Ferrier take the stage in this adaptation of three L. Frank Baum tales.
Credit: Gerald van Wilgen

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is such an iconic children’s story that it has long eclipsed the rest of author L. Frank Baum’s extensive body of work. One year after Dorothy first followed the Yellow Brick Road, for instance, Baum published “American Fairy Tales,” a collection of 12 stories meant as a homegrown complement to familiar European tales.

“I think he may have been competing with the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, though these stories are not nearly as gruesome,” says Michelle Pauls, who is co-directing a production of three of Baum’s stories for Walking Fish Theatre’s annual holiday offering. “They’re kind of sweet and old-fashioned.”

The stories were adapted by Pauls’ co-artistic director of Walking Fish’s resident B. Someday Productions and co-director of the show, Stan Heleva. The directors discovered Baum’s stories after another of his books, “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus,” served as the inspiration for last year’s far less family-friendly Christmas show, “The Early Adventures of Santa Claus – A Yuletide Burlesque.”

The tales seemed a good fit for the theater’s intimate space and for the interactivity that they like to integrate into their family shows, which includes joining in a dance sequence, singing along with seasonal favorites and becoming the victims of (temporary) larceny during “The Box of Robbers.”

The stories chosen for the production also include “The Queen of Quok” and “The Girl Who Owned a Bear” — little-known, certainly, but not wholly unfamiliar for anyone who’s read or seen the film based on Baum’s best-known work. “In two of the stories, there are girl protagonists who are left alone by their families,” Pauls says. “They have very rich imaginations like Dorothy. You’re left wondering at the end if everything really happened or if they just dreamed it all up.”

The cast of “American Fairy Tales” includes two young alumni of Walking Fish’s Fun with Acting and Acting for Teens classes, 16-year-old Michael Trainer and 12-year-old Helen Sher. Their involvement is an aspect of the company’s efforts to reach out to the Kensington community. “Our mission is to be an arts hub for our community and to provide opportunities for creative expansion,” Pauls explains. “Part of that is to nurture younger talent. My hope is that they’ll not only have a great time but that they’ll learn what it’s like to work in professional productions, as well as be inspiring to other young people who come to see the show.”

‘American Fairy Tales’
Dec. 18-31
Walking Fish Theatre
2509 Frankford Ave.
$7-$12, 215-427-9255
www.walkingfishtheatre.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…