Monday, July 20, 2009

The Wizard of Oz

New Century Players
July 17 - 26, 2009


Dorothy finds herself in the land of the Munchkins and flying monkeys, and must journey to see the Wizard of Oz. Presented in conjunction with the NCP Youth Theatre Camp and in partnership with the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation Department. Directed by Becky Chelson. Choreography by Sharon V. Miller.


Anonymous said...

I'm not certain why companies feel compelled to do this on their press releases and websites, but the name of the director is the least enticing piece of information to use to inspire me to attend their show. It's certainly nice to know, but I'd much rather know the names of the actors I'll be seeing in the production.

Anonymous said...

It's a small compensation for all the work our directors do for so very little money. Cast lists, while interesting to most of us, are invariably cut from most sites for lack of space.

I'll go see a show I don't particularly care for when someone I know is directing or performing in it. And I have been known to avoid a show because I don't care for the director's style.

Anonymous said...

NCP received this email about WIZARD and we're so pleased we have been sharing it with everyone.

We are proud and somewhat astonished that our small, volunteer-driven, community theater can pull off a show of this complexity. And our monkeys and witches actually fly!

Here's the email:

"Not sure if anyone will get this but I just wanted to say that I took my family to see the show last Saturday and it was absolutely delightful!

Dorothy was perfect. Her voice was beautiful and her acting reminded me of the original Dorothy. And Scarecrow? Wow! What a melodic voice!

The Lyon was dead on with his voice (again, just like the original
movie) and Witch's eerie cackle gave me goosebumps!

One last thing, the extensive amounts of props and the live orchestra really completed the package. I feel like I should have paid more for the tickets.

I live in Canby but that won't stop me from coming out again. I look forward to your next production.

This one was simply "Magical"!"

Anonymous said...

I drove out to see this show because this company produced "Lone Star" last year and I had a good friend in it. I was plesently surprised how good it was. No so this time around. You can certainly skip this show. It is quite bad. Very much a community theater production, at it's worst. The costuming was fine and the Wicked Witch had her moments but the rest of the show is terrible. The "flying" elements just distracted from the show and the "three friends" are very young with much yet to learn of their craft.

Anonymous said...

Directors are often the most well compensated members of a production in this town while contributing less labor and time on a production than the actors, designers, and crew. Especially if the production has fairly lengthy run. Directors do not suffer around here compared to others.

splattworks said...

I've directed once or twice. It's a bucketful of work, and then you pretty much have to let go of it opening night, and the recognition tends to come from your peers rather than the audience. Directors are due their reward; a good one can save (or at least salvage) a troubled production.

However, and maybe I missed it, but I couldn't find any mention on their site of the play's author.
We know where the source material comes from in this case, but, really, every theatre company in town ought to know that the playwright, living or dead, should be included in all publicity.

Come on, folks. The words don't magically appear from the ether. There's really no excuse for that, whether you're doing an established play or something written by your neighbor. Whenever you put forth a title, it should always be followed by the words "written by...."

Lunch Lady said...

I have to disagree. Directors may receive the best compensation in The Big City, but out here in the provinces it's a different story.

NCP is a community theater run by volunteers. Our directors have to work every rehearsal, plan schedules, confer on every technical detail, and often pick up a hammer on set building days. Their compensation probably covers their gas expenses and may possibly buy a nice lunch at Taco Bell.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right about the playwright being credited. Normally, it's right there after the title, where it should be.

In this case, it wasn't so easy. The original book is by L. Frank Baum, the adaptation by John Kane, and this is the Royal Shakespeare Company's version by an unnamed person or persons.

Then there's the music: the familiar music and lyrics by Arlen and Harburg, not to mention the background music by Herbert Stothart.

By the time one finishes putting all that on a publicity release, interest has waned and there is no more space anyway for petty details like dates and times.

It's funny how the word 'petty' leapt to mind just now.

splattworks said...

Hmm. Sounds a little tricky, all right. Maybe something like, "From the Royal Shakespeare Theatre adaptation of L. Frank Baum's book." It's unwieldy, I know, and doesn't get everyone in there. But, you know, we may think everybody knows L. Frank Baum's the author, but we still list Shakespeare when we present Hamlet (in his case, he often gets first billing). Guidelines should be included in the rights contract, though, granted, they're not always clear...and there always exceptions.

Anonymous said...

If this is a properly licensed production, there should be requirements as to how everyone is credited. My hunch is this is not a properly licensed production. You do know that Harburg's family lives in Portland, don't you? There was a big article on them in The Oregonian a year or two ago. If you haven't licensed this property legally, I think you'd better get on that post haste.

Lunch Lady said...

Good heavens!

New Century Players Community Theater's production of THE WIZARD OF OZ is properly licensed. Tams Witmark knows all about us.

We also have all our 501 (c) 3 papers in order, our treasurer is a CPA with 30 years of experience, and our rabies shots are up to date.

Thank you for your concern.

Kelley said...

We are properly licensed and I take offense that it is insinuated that we are not. In fact, every dime of the royalties and rentals along with the total cost of the production may put us under financially. The fact that ALL of our press release and ALL the information on our postcards, postcards, programs...etc. is not posted on a blog overview where only a partial summary is taken out is not our fault.

Believe me, I've spent hours on the contract and making sure every part of it is taken seriously and covered as we are only able to do a musical every once in a while and there's a lot more to check on those contracts.

Kelley Marchant
Managing Artistic Director

followspot said...

Kelley makes a good point - blogs and other theatre listings don't list the entire info that a theatre company sends out.

Anonymous said...

Kelley, you are absolutely right about the fact that what blogs like Followspot and other various publicity sources elect to publish about your production are beyond your control. But New Century's own website, which I can only logically assume is within your company's scope of influence, lacks all of this information as well.

Without knowing which adaptation is being performed, or the names of the cast performing it, I personally can't find a reason to be enticed to see the show. At this point, with the information that you're providing, it's a blind gamble as to whether or not I'd enjoy it.

It's not an unreasonable or offensive request on the part of a prospective audience member to have this information on hand when attempting to decide whether or not they want to spend their limited funds and time in seeing your show. Especially when we're talking about a website, which has more than enough space to accommodate all of this information, unlike a poster or postcard.

Rather than take offense at the implication that your show may or may not properly licensed, I would recommend that you consider how it is that such an idea can inferred by the public in the first place and what it is that you and your company can do now and in the future to prevent it.

A well-designed and informative production website does nothing but help to clear these matters, and goes quite far in helping to promote your production and your company, regardless of what Followspot or any other publicity source may or may not provide.

Anonymous said...

My personal experience (more with MTI than with T-W) is that the licensing contract specifically mentions how credits are to be listed, not only on posters, programs, etc., but press releases as well.

Anonymous said...

I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Anon 7/24 6 p.m., and also wonder if New Century realizes that, if this is like any other Tams-Witmark contract I personally have signed, they are *required* to post credits and the fact that it's licensed by Tams-Witmark on their website!

theresa said...

I am uncertain regarding the point of this thread. While people have valid points regarding information they would like to see on websites (such as actors' names), proper crediting, and contract administration, to pick on this one theatre company and to imply it's due to lack of professionalism, when I've seen few companies rigorously follow these guidelines seems unfair. If people are truly concerned and wish to act as watchdogs, they should email each theatre company to address this.

Kelley said...

Thanks Theresa! Being an all volunteer company, we don't always have the man power to keep up with everything....we're just trying our best. Our volunteer (and just learning) webmaster will be sure to follow through the next time around. I'm sure he wasn't aware of how important all of this was. In the meantime, the rest of us are just trying to keep up with the cast/crew/orchestra of over 95 people. I will try to list all of them for all of you next time...enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I personally don't see anyone picking on this particular company. I do see some awfully defensive answers. Things need to be done legally, and it's always smart in a properly licensed production to list the licensor everywhere--on PR releases, on the website, on the program and on the poster. As Mr. Tobias Andersen has been saying on a very spirited debate on PDXBackstage about pay for actors, this is the real world, folks. You have to play by the rules.

Anonymous said...

No one no where on this thread had said that this production was no need to jump to conclusions and create argument for the sake of argument. So frankly - shut up and move on.

Gymnasia said...

Shut up and move on? I am new to blogging so correct me if I am wrong....Isn't the whole point of blogging to have discussion and wouldn't shutting up be counterproductive on a blog site? Personally - I love community theatre for the audiences it is intended for: the little old ladies who love to see the young people perform, the families with five kids who can only afford to expose their children to theatre because of the community troupes, the Actress who can once again feel the spotlight, without intimidation, after years of raising a family....that's who communtity theatre is for and not some anonymous person who "drove out" and can take the time to say mean things but not the extra moment to make the comments constuctive. While I appreciate you coming to the show, I wonder if you came to support NCP or if you came armed with the negative attitude before the curtain even went up? While we obviously did not impress you, I am proud of our very hard work for the hundreds of folks and their kids who have left the theater with huge and very satisfied grins.

splattworks said...

Yikes. You're away for a few days and come back to the damndest things.

I never meant for anyone to interpret my comments to say this production was performing outside of contract, and I think it's a leap to assume they are, since none of us knows what's in the contract except the company and their licenser. Frequently, licensing contracts include language regarding credits, but contracts differ, and this kind of sounds like an unusual, complicated arrangement, and it sounds like NCP certainly took their obligations seriously.

That said, the problem of not crediting the playwright is not limited to this production. For example, many times I've gone to a play and read through the many bios in the program only to find there's no bio for the playwright. "Well, everybody knows who Edward Albee is." Well, yeah, most people do, but that's still not sufficient. Mr. Albee--and every other playwright--has worked hard to earn their recognition.

The simple solution is for all theatres companies, big and small, to make some kind of effort to credit the playwright, whether it's Wild Bill Shakespeare or Bob Whoever, first-time author. It's the professional move, and, in some cases, it is stipulated as terms of licensing. Though I'm speaking here as a fellow artist, I have a bit of experience with the matter as a playwright with multiple productions and as Portland's Dramatist Guild Rep.

So--everyone--please give the playwright their due, okay? Both in your PR, posters, and programs.

Here's wishing NCP much success with their production, and I apologize if anyone took my comment personally. They were professional observations regarding an ongoing issue.


Steve Patterson

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously proposing writing a bio for Shakespeare in the program?

Bear in mind, most theaters I've worked for, you submit your bio yourself, or it doesn't go in.

I don't think Willy will be getting back to me.

I don't know about this bio issue - do you need to put a bio in for a playwright who isn't directly involved in the production? For one who is dead? For one who's work is in the public domain?

It seems clear to me that putting a bio in your program for Shakespeare is just silly, and likely to be viewed as a gag.

But that creates a grey area - where is the line?

NCP Webmaster said...


I want to add some clarification regarding the "lack of credit" on the website.

As a very small (and due to the licensing for this production, currently underfunded) community theatre, we all do what we do because we enjoy it, and we politely step through the legal hoops in order to do so. This production is properly licensed with royalties paid, and all terms of the contract met, which were that all printed publicity must contain proper credit somewhere on it.

For such a small group, a website is not high on our list of priorities even then serves primarily the purpose of providing an online portal to purchase tickets.

All the higher-ups have been preoccupied with this unprecedented-in-scale performance, and since this webmaster is currently also serving IN the production, information on the website (which is the ONLY place in any in-depth publicity on which the original scriptwriter's name was not given) temporarily fell by the wayside and has since been corrected.

Bios for the playwrights are not included in brochures or on the website because by most standards this would be considered trivia, to be researched at one's leisure if it catches their fancy.

Nevertheless, this has brought attention to full credit for playwright, original author (if applicable) and any music, which from now on will be posted on the appropriate page on the website, as well as a cast list.

I hope this is some assurance to some of our concerned Anonymous theatre-goers.

~ New Century Players Webmaster

splattworks said...

Thanks for the clarification, NCP.

As to bios in the program, unless such credits are stipulated in the contract, they are, indeed, up to the theatre. For a very famous author, however, theatres frequently include dramaturgical information about, say, how Shakespeare came to write "Hamlet" rather than a formal bio. For playwrights who are still living and writing, most playwrights believe their bios should be included in the program as a professional courtesy, just as a bio would be included on a book jacket.

splattworks said...

Follow-Up on Followspot and the author's bios question....

In consultation with the Dramatists Guild, author's bylines on publicity and bios in their programs are considered part of their compensation, and should be included for all authors, living or dead.

A word to the wiseguy....


The Wiseguy said...

I've never seen a royalty contract with a requirement for there to be a playwright's bio in the program.

If its considered part of their compensation, surely it should be in the contract?

splattworks said...

You may not have seen it, but it's part of a standard Dramatists Guild of America contract. And it's a sign of due respect and courtesy to the author, without which, actors would nothing to say.

Cougar said...

I have seen said royalty contract stipulating bio in program, and on other occasions, I've also had guest playwrights very peeved when they noticed we overlooked their bio, forcing us (me) to sheepishly rush to Kinko's for some last minute stuffers.

And, yes, since then I have included bios for even the dead ones, to spare myself the hauntings. (I don't know why you would assume everyone knows Shakespeare's biographical story when they're not even familiar with his more famous work.)

Jaded Devil said...

This conversation is a perfect example of what happens when the suits get in the way of the arts.

It's the goddamn Wizard of Oz. It's a play based on the movie everyone's seen based on the book everyone's read. Most of the dialogue is taken verbatim from the movie. So who should be credited...the guy who transcribed the movie and added a couple lines? The screenwriters of the movie? L. Frank Baum himself? Wait, some of the actors may have added some lines of their own...should they be granted writing credits as well?

The point is this isn't a Mamet or Shepard play. This isn't even a new, different take on Baum's original work. This is a carbon copy of a carbon copy of a movie based on a book. And whether you loved or hated New Century's production of it, I guarantee they had more pressing concerns than a few nitpickers concerned that some guy in England pausing a VHS tape to make sure he gets Judy Garland's words just right receives "proper credit."

splattworks said...

From Wikipedia:

The Wizard of Oz was originally adapted for the stage in 1945 by Frank Gabrielson. It was produced for the St. Louis Municipal Opera. This version has its own script, but incorporated the film songs. There was even a solo written for Dorothy in the Emerald City called "Evening Star". In 1987 John Kane adapted it for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The script has almost the same dialogue as the movie with a few minor changes and additions. The scoring was done by Larry Wilcox. You are able to hear a lot of the same underscoring as the film. The score included the famous songs in the movie, but it restored "The Jitterbug", "Over the Rainbow (Reprise)", and "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (Reprise)", three songs that were cut from the final film. For costuming it was decided to combine the book's original artwork along with the style of the then popular musical The Wiz. The original cast featured Imelda Staunton as Dorothy. When the same production was reproduced in 1988, Gillian Bevan played Dorothy. The production was an immediate success in London when it opened at the Barbican Theater.

So I think that goes....

The Wizard of Oz
Adapted from Frank L. Baum's book by John Kane, with scoring by Larry Wilcox.

The end.

Anonymous said...

No, actually not the end, at least as far the music goes. Wilcox was the arranger/orchestrator, not the composer. Harburg et al. still need their proper credit.