Folk art version of ‘Wizard of Oz’ sure to please LGBT, young fans alike


‘The Wizard of Oz’
Feb. 25 – March 11 at Alliance Theatre
1280 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309

‘Ruth and the Green Book’
Through Feb. 26
The Center for Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30309

‘Meat is Murdered’
March 2 at Graveyard Tavern
1245 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta , GA 30316

This is a pared down version of “Oz,” says the actor, although there is very little difference in the actual plot. What sets it apart besides the occasional puppet characters is a strong folk art theme, McColery says.

He is aware of the fascination, bordering on obsession, that some LGBT fans have for the film. 

“I was young when I saw it and terrified, but there is so much truth to it,” he says. “It’s about facing your fears. Nothing comes easily to any of these characters.”

“It’s something we all know and love, and it’s about home – finding the home in yourself.”

Under the musical direction of openly gay Christopher Cannon, this version of “The Wizard of Oz” features — of course — the perennials “Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

Navigating the Jim Crow South

Openly gay actor Spencer Stephens is appearing in The Center for Puppetry Arts’ new “Ruth and the Green Book.” It’s a world premiere about an African-American family traveling from Chicago to Alabama in the 1950s. They find a book that tells them of safe places they can visit. It is during the Jim Crow-era South and the family gets turned away from gas stations and hotels before finding safe places to stay – and passing along that information to others.
The new production is based on a book written by Atlanta author Calvin A. Ramsey. Stephens plays Daddy.

“Daddy is an optimist in love with his wife and daughter,” he says. “He is affected by the racism of the day but he is careful about what he says in front of his daughter. “
According to Stephens, LGBT audiences can certainly relate to the material and the notion of being discriminated against – and rising and standing up.

“And who of us doesn’t have a travel guide to know where to go, where the safe places are,” he says.

The Smiths remembered

Finally, a benefit performance of the new gay-themed show “Meat is Murdered” on March 2 will benefit 7 Stages theater company, known for its gay fare. The new show features the music of Morrissey, the popular bisexual singer.

“Meat is Murdered” is about the demise of the English alternative rock band The Smiths. Among the gay cast members is Jed Drummond, who plays one of Morrissey’s gay lovers.

Top photo: Costume sketches for Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion show the folk art style that Alliance Theatre brings to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ (Design and sketches by Sydney Roberts)