"Wizard of Oz" in small space

This coming August, I have the privilege of directing and designing a production of The Wizard of Oz for my local community theatre group. This is a huge show to take on, and unfortunately the theater we have booked is not very large at all, so we're doing our best to make sure everything fits, but at the same time make sure it doesn't look like crap.

I have figured out how to do some of the smaller special effects, but some of the larger, more "iconic" ones I still haven't been able to figure out.

1. Glinda's entrance
2. Wizard's giant head
3. Witch's melting
4. Wizard's balloon rising

Here are some important things to know about the stage/theater from their website:

Stage is a proscenium.
Stage height is 7”
Proscenium width is 32’-0”
Stage depth is 24”-0”
Proscenium Height is 16’-0”
Grid Height is 22’-0”
Cyclorama is seamless white muslin, 50’-0” wide x 19’-8” high.
Cyclorama to plaster line is 19’-10”
Cross-over walkway behind cyc is 2’-0” wide SR and expands to 3’-0” wide SL, or there is an external cross-over.
Backstage exit SR has stairway to lower level open space.
Wing Space: Stage Left is 12’ x 26’, Stage Right is 20’ x 26’
NOT a fly space and has no installed counter-weight rigging systems.

There is also a projection system (the one major plus).

I am open to any suggestions.

Thanks!
 
For some reason the dimensions didn't copy correctly. It should say:

Stage is a proscenium.
Stage height is 7"
Proscenium width is 32'-0"
Stage depth is 24"-0"
Proscenium Height is 16'-0"
Grid Height is 22'-0"
Cyclorama is seamless white muslin, 50'-0" wide x 19'-8" high.
Cyclorama to plaster line is 19'-10"
Cross-over walkway behind cyc is 2'-0" wide SR and expands to 3'-0" wide SL, or there is an external cross-over.
Backstage exit SR has stairway to lower level open space.
Wing Space: Stage Left is 12' x 26', Stage Right is 20' x 26'
NOT a fly space and has no installed counter-weight rigging systems.


Sorry for the mistake!
 

hrm894

Member
If you feel like you have the space for it, I would build a spiraling ramp that leads to offstage. The nice thing is you can use the ramp for both Glinda's entrance and the Wizard's exit.

Glinda's Entrance
- Ramp is decorated with tulle and glitter
- I would build her cart with a way to put tulle and more glitter around her. And an veil or drape that she moves as she exits.
- She starts at the top of the ramp offstage, on cue they slowly let the rope out until she hits her mark onstage.
- Fog effect maybe? Giant plume of fog then let the cart down through it?

Wizard's Exit
- Ramp has tulle but no glitter. Maybe some cotton?
- Obviously a basket cart, painted or fleshed out if you can find some enough sticks to make it look good.
- Perhaps some ropes around poles to go up to balloons, but I wouldn't include the ballon because of the height.
- His starts onstage and slowly gets pulled offstage. Remember balloons just float, so no need to go fast.

Wizard's Chambers
What kind of projection system do you have? Is it rear projection? Front? or a combo?
Since there's no fly system I'm assuming traveler curtains? If you have rear projection I would run a screen in between a traveler opening (leave about a foot to each side of the screen) but have his set behind it, so that when Dorothy goes behind the curtain you can open it to reveal everything. I would have foggers off to the side, but I wouldn't try to obscure the screen too much.
-OR-
If you don't have space in the center, have the wizard's screen off to SR and the group off to SL. Wizard himself would be behind the next traveler back. Leave it cracked about a foot and put some red lights back there for some foreshadowing?

Witch Melting
Fog? Do it near the side of the stage or where she could be easily hidden and replaced with a pile of clothes before the smoke dissipates? Maybe use a strobe too.
 

JChenault

Well-Known Member
We did the show a few years ago on a smaller space. Here's what we did.

Glinda's entrance and exit. A tight moving spot that came on, moved across the stage, landed on one side, and Glinda stepped out. Was used a moving light with swirling dichroics to make it a bit snazzier.

Wizards head. Just built it out of foam with a lot of lighting and fog. I don't remember if it moved or just sat there, but the eyes lit up, and the colors changed. The secret was extreme angles on the lights, intense colors, and lots of relief on the head.

Witch melting. Build a set piece for the melt that is a minimum of three feet high. Trap door with stairs underneath. Witch stands just in front of trap. Technician opens trap. Dorothy throws water, witch steps back and walks/ crawls down stair. Rehearse this one extensively to make it safe.

Wizard exit in balloon, cut out balloon profile where the basket is not seen on stage, wizard goes offstage, profile moves up and off. Miniature balloon with basket flies out and crosses off. ( this was the plan ). What we ended up doing was simpler. Just a large rope "holding" the off stage balloon which went out as the balloon esced.

Have fun
 
When we did this show in 2009 it really challenged us technically for Port Colborne Operatic Society. Here are some of our highlights:

Glinda's entrance: we used an old lightweight 18 inch scoop with a light pink gel behind the cyc to simulate a floating orb. It would "float" from SR to SL then go out and Glinda would walk on from the upstage left wing. Depending on the scene, her exit was reversed.

Wizard's head: similar to above suggestions. Sharp angle lighting enhancing relief. We used a large head with the curtain below it. When the wizard was revealed, the lighting subdued on the head part and concentrated on the wizard at his control panel below the head.

Witch's melting: Well we lucked out here. Stage had a built in trap door to the green room one floor below stage. Brought a hydraulic lift in and lowered her in a cloud of fog.

Balloon float away: We had a rolling trolley that had the balloon's basket and simulated balloon rigging that went up and off stage. Balloon was positioned just n stage from the wings. The hand lines held by cast that when they let go were pulled up and over a fly bar over the stage. The baskets rolling flat then was pulled off stage slowly. Worked well.

Some other effects we used:

Crystal ball scenes used projections on screens mounted on proscenium, (School theater facility).

Dorothy's pleading to the crystal ball while held in castle was also projections with her mother calling out to her on the screens.

Witch's entrance was always from an upstage wing. We would pre-fire a fog machine and she would hold her cape out and "scoop" fog and pull it on stage with her. Worked very well.

Kansas scenes were played behind a scrim hung on first bar downstage. All scenes lit with open white or R99 chocolate for a sepia effect.

Tornado was a backlit cardboard tornado that was about 10 feet high. It ws hinged in 3 places and lit from the upstage wall and was behind the cyc. The resulting shadow looked god.

One of the biggest challenges was near the end when each character says goodbye to Dorothy. They had to get off stage and down to the green room to remove makeup (especially tin man!!) and be ready for the end scene back in Kansas. My wife came up with a brilliant idea of doing a "reverse dream" projection sequence using the tornado footage from the beginning along with flashbacks of scenes during the Munchkin land time. These were photo's taken during dress rehearsal. We ended with the house spinning in the air and landing, then in to a snap blackout. Dorothy then awoke from her dream with the cast back in farm costume. It was a bit of a departure from script but was executed brilliantly. Gave us 4 minutes to execute a major scene change and do a major costume change on the cast.

We had a blast doing this show. Fun, technical, and cast of all ages.

Good luck,

Bryan Biller
Technical Director
Port Colborne Operatic Society
portcolborneoperaticsociety.com
 

Timothy A. Samuelson

Active Member
One of the biggest challenges was near the end when each character says goodbye to Dorothy. They had to get off stage and down to the green room to remove makeup (especially tin man!!) and be ready for the end scene back in Kansas. My wife came up with a brilliant idea of doing a "reverse dream" projection sequence using the tornado footage from the beginning along with flashbacks of scenes during the Munchkin land time. These were photo's taken during dress rehearsal. We ended with the house spinning in the air and landing, then in to a snap blackout. Dorothy then awoke from her dream with the cast back in farm costume. It was a bit of a departure from script but was executed brilliantly. Gave us 4 minutes to execute a major scene change and do a major costume change on the cast.

Kudos to your wife! That's a fantastic idea. I'll have to keep it in mind. I know we'll be taking a trip to Oz in the near future. It's begging to be done by a good theatre here.
 

VCTMike

Active Member
I created a tornado from a round loop attached to a motor hanging on a traveller. The tornado itself was a tapered dark gray tube with the occasional pieces of debris clipped onto it. No weight needed at the bottom. For the effect, we powered up the motor to get it spinning (~2-3 rpm) and then travelled it across stage slowly in both directions. The motion worked perfectly to give it the appearance of a waving tube of dust. We had this on a batten upstage of the house which was built to accept a 'driver' inside. The house was pushed around on stage while also spinning to arrive at Munchkin land.
 
Gave us 4 minutes to execute a major scene change and do a major costume change on the cast.

Our Tin Man usually ended up on stage for the final scene with silver makeup behind his ears!

We used a LOT of projections, along with changeable carts.

Our Wizard's Balloon exit used a projection of a cartoon balloon behind a platform holding the real actors. The Wizard exited, then reappeared, climbing into the balloon IN THE PROJECTION, at life size. The projection then lifted off and disappeared, shrinking in size.

The Glinda's Entrance effect, much as described by hrm894 above, we dubbed the "Glinda Glide" and the elevator that dropped the melting Wicked Witch became the "Witchivator".
 

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