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
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.