Myrna Swensen, “Munchkin by Marriage” 

As a teenager, Myrna Clifton was scheduled to appear in MGM’s Wizard of Oz, as were her parents. The girl’s emergency appendectomy sidelined the family trip to Culver City, California; by the time they were ready to travel, the film was too far into production for them to be cast. Several years later, however (and still in her native Texas), Myrna caught the appreciative eye–and heart–of movie “Munchkin soldier,” Clarence Swensen. Their subsequent love affair resulted in a 63-year marriage, three daughters, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. Since Clarence’s passing in 2009, Myrna has continued to appear at nationwide Oz festivals, where the Swensens were much-admired, much-loved regulars for two decades.




Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire is best known for his 1995 novel for adults, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. A New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller, and cited by Barnes & Noble in its “Discover Great New Writers” recommendations for the Fall of 1995, Wicked inspired the Broadway musical of the same time and three bestselling sequels in the Wicked Years cycle, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. The Tony Award-winning Wicked, well into its eighth year on Broadway and playing in nine productions internationally, has broken box office records in nearly every venue in which it has appeared.
    All his other novels for adults—Lost and Mirror Mirror among them—have appeared on national bestseller lists. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was made into an ABC television film starring Stockard Channing and Jonathan Pryce. Maguire has recorded two of his novels available on tape and CD. His work is available internationally into more than twenty languages.
    Born and raised in Albany, New York, and schooled in a parochial setting until college, Maguire published his first novel for children at the age of 24. He has written seventeen novels for children and eight novels for adults, as well as picture books, short stories, essays, and signal reviews for major journals like the Sunday New York Times Book Review and Ploughshares. Furthermore, he has contributed essays to the progressive Catholic journal Commonweal and editorials to the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor. He performed an original story for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and hosted an episode of NPR’s “Selected Shorts.”
    Maguire began his career by teaching literature and creative writing to children and to adults. For eight years he helped direct the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College, Boston. For a quarter century he co-directed an educational charity he helped found, Children’s Literature New England, Inc., established to raise awareness of the significance of literature in the lives of children.
    Maguire has contributed a chapter to Click, a novel to benefit Amnesty International. He also continues to lecture at colleges and universities both in the United States and abroad. Maguire has lived in the United States and in London and Dublin. Currently he spends his time in Massachusetts, Vermont, and France with his husband, the painter Andy Newman, and their three children.

André De Shields
In a career spanning more than forty years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. He is the recipient of the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award, and the coveted 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. Among his numerous accolades are eight AUDELCO Awards, including Outstanding Lead in a Musical (Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, 2009) and Outstanding Lead in a Drama (Knock Me A Kiss, 2011). He holds two Doctor of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York-College at Buffalo. 
    Mr. De Shields first achieved national recognition in 1975 for creating the title role in the legendary musical, The Wiz, a soulful remake of Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, which won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. He secured his status as Broadway veteran with equally show stopping performances in the world premiere of two plays—Mark Medoff’s Prymate (Drama Desk nomination), Michael Jacobs’ Impressionism, with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen—and three legendary musicals: The Full Monty, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations, in addition to both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards, Play On! (Tony nomination), and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Drama Desk nomination). 
    In 2009, he made a note worthy debut as Teiresias, the blind poet, in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Euripides’ The Bacchae, directed by Joanne Akalaitis, with a score by Philip Glass, at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre. New York audiences also will remember Mr. De Shields for his widely acclaimed collaborations with Alfred Preisser at the Classical Theatre of Harlem: as Makak in Derek Walcott’s Dream On Monkey Mountain, in the title roles of Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, Caligula and King Lear, and Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity (Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Drama league Award nominations/Outstanding Leading Man in a Musical).
    Regional audiences have witnessed his precedent setting performances as Robert in David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre, Henry Drummond in Inherit The Wind, Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman, Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner, Scott Joplin in Tin Pan Alley Rag, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, Jacob Strand in Ibsen’s Ghosts (starring Jane Alexander), and the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
    His film and television credits include Extreme Measures with Hugh Grant, Prison with Viggo Mortensen, Rescue Me, Life On Mars, Lipstick Jungle, Sex And The City, Law & Order, Cosby, the NBC movie-of-the-week, I Dream Of Jeannie-15 Years Later, as Haji, King of the Genies, a PBS Great Performance: as Tweedledum in Alice In Wonderland and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award). 
    A triple Capricorn, Mr. De Shields is the ninth of eleven children born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland. www.andredeshields.com. Namaste!