Performances, Presentations and an Oz Auction; It Can Only Be an Oz convention

OzCon International (Aug. 10-12) offered a wonderful program packed with enough great Oz activity to appeal to all kinds of Oz fans.

James Ortiz, right, used audience volunteers and a twisted paper figure to demonstrate how a team manipulates a life-sized puppet on stage.

The year marked the centennial of The Tin Woodman of Oz, so our friend Nick Chopper received extra attention. James Ortiz, for example, joined us to talk about his fascinating and critically acclaimed off-Broadway production of THE WOODSMAN. David Maxine presented what we know about Broadway’s first Tin Woodman, actor David Montgomery.  Eric Shanower walked his audience through different ways the character’s been illustrated.  Jack Haley’s grandson Barry Bregman shared family stories about the MGM star. And Dina Schiff Massachi’s talk brought us clear up to Todrick Hall’s Tin Man.

When my friend Keith Holman dropped by to show me literature for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum, I was able to introduce him to another friend, Chris Rickard, author of A Legend in Straw: The Spirit of My Uncle Ray Bolger.

That was just the Tin Woodman; there were roughly two dozen other presentations, too. Baum sites in Los Angeles, JOURNEY BACK TO OZ, Marriages in Oz, MGM special effects, Animated Oz, and Ray Bolger each had a spotlight. Authors shared new books about Matilda Joslyn Gage, Gay Fans of Oz, and newly published Oz fiction.  It was a glorious abundance.

Artist John Coulter showcased his fine art prints, but also shared his childhood hand puppets — proof of his life-long love for Oz.

There was much more than presentations, of course. The dealer’s room offered rare book specialists, collectibles and fine art.  Dramatics included the delightful Raymond Wohl’s one-man performance as L. Frank Baum, and a “readers’ theater” skit about Baum’s Tin Woodman of Oz. The costume contest, “It’s the Baum” game show, after-hours karaoke, and much, much conversation keep the adrenaline going all weekend.

Freddy Fogarty shared a rare Return to Oz handkerchief from Japan during show-and-tell.

If you’ve never attended an Oz convention, 2019 is the perfect time to change that!  The Club will host Oz: The National Convention outside New Orleans in June, and OzCon International will return to Pomona, California, in July. Conventions attract fans of all ages, and with all interests. There are always first-time attendees as well as those who make it an annual event. We’d love to have you join the fun!


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