In the 1890s, L. Frank Baum, a reporter for the Chicago Evening Post, dreamed up a fantastical story that we all know and love today, The Wizard of Oz. Though the name Oz came from his file cabinet labeled "O–Z," scholars believe that the mystical land was inspired by the glimmering "White City" of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This spring, two new Wizard of Oz theatrical productions invite families to rediscover Baum's beloved characters. Afterwards, head to the charming, Oz-inspired play park, where kids can set off on the yellow brick road in search of their own adventures!
The House Theatre's The Great & Terrible Wizard of Oz finds a teenage Dorothy desperate to return home after a terrible twister blows her home all the way to Munchkinland, where it lands right on top of a wicked witch, leading the short-statured residents to believe that she's the long-awaited, legendary Witch Slayer.
Teamed up with a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodsman, and a cowardly Lion, Dorothy makes her way to Oz, where a demented Wizard offers her the chance to return home only if she promises to live up to her violent and vengeful new Witchslayer moniker.
Puppets by Jesse Mooney-Bullock (The Hammer Trinity) and music from company member Kevin O'Donnell promise to transport you to the mythical land of Oz. This retelling is best for audiences 10 and up, read the Parents' Guide to see if your kid is ready to set off on this Oz adventure.
WHEN: Now through May 7, 2017
WHERE: Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street
WHEN: Now through June 8, 2017
From the corner of Webster Avenue and Larabee Street, follow the yellow brick road toward the Emerald Garden, where you'll be greeted by the Scarecrow. At the southeast corner, the bronze Cowardly Lion proudly displays his badge of courage. Dorothy and Toto watch over the children as they head toward the playlot with its swings and slides. The Tin Man guards the northeast corner, proudly displaying his brand-new ticking heart.
The statues were all created by John Kearney, a Chicago and Provincetown-based American artist famous for his figurative sculptures made of found metal objects. He welded together old chrome car bumpers to bring Oz Park's Tin Man to life.
Oz Park is also one of many Chicago parks that show free outdoor movies as part of the Movies in the Park summer series. Bring a blanket and spread it on the grass, under the stars, for a truly unique movie-going experience.
WHERE: 2021 N. Burling Street
OZ PARK IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, 6 a.m.–11 p.m. EVERY DAY
Oz Park photos credit Adam Alexander