SPECIAL OZ GUESTS

For 2024, we are excited to bring to you special guests from all over the Oz universe.

GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER OF L. FRANK BAUM
GITA DOROTHY MORENA

Dr. Gita Dorothy Morena has dedicated her life to finding the pathway home. As an author, lecturer, and psychoanalyst, she shines as a beacon of light for all those traveling along the yellow brick road of life. 

Her great grandfather, L. Frank Baum, provides a rich tapestry of fairy tales which Dr. Morena draws upon in a variety of ways to exemplify her teachings. Her book, The Wisdom of Oz, stimulates readers to discover the brilliance of their own associations with the story, and find the wisdom, compassion and courage that lie within them. 

With the given name of Dorothy, Dr. Morena embodies the beloved heroine of her great grandfather. She encourages others to explore the mysterious realms of the inner world just as Dorothy traveled the magical territories of Oz.  

Matilda Gage, Baum’s mother in law and early suffragist, seems to whisper encouragement as Dr. Morena carries the fight for freedom into the inner realms of the psyche. You can find out more about her at www.gitamorena.com.

DAUGHTER OF BERT LAHR (THE COWARDLY LION)
JANR LAHR

Jane Lahr is the only daughter of Bert Lahr, the legendary "Cowardly Lion" of the classic 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie musical, THE WIZARD OF OZ.  As such, she is both an ebullient exponent of “the second generation of Oz" and -- in her own right -- a highly successful author, editor, and anthologist. Her thirty-five years of experience in publishing encompasses work as a founding partner of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, as Associate Publisher of Greenwich Workshop Press, as Director of Advertising, Publicity and Promotion at Harry N. Abrams, and as Director of Special Sale for Abbeville Press.  

She comes to Chittenango to celebrate her father, whose career spanned six decades and included triumphs in the theater, in motion pictures, and on television. Lahr played everything from burlesque to Shakespeare, from vaudeville to Aristophanes, from Broadway musicals to WAITING FOR GODOT. Most memorably – and incomparably -- he companioned Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley (and Toto, too…) on the Yellow Brick Road to Oz in the best-known, best-loved motion picture of all-time. When Lahr, pun-in-cheek, sighed “If I Only Had the Nerve” -- or forever devastated the vibrato/bravado posturings of classical baritones in “If Were King of the Forest” – he achieved a never-surpassed combination of comedic and heart-rending artistry.

Jane began her career at Harry N. Abrams, Inc., where she pioneered the area of Special Sales and became Director of Advertising, Publicity, and Promotion. She left Abrams to help co-found Stewart, Tabori & Chang, where she was pivotal in the packaging and marketing of GRAND MOTHER REMEMBERS. With Lena Tabori, she co-edited LOVE/A CELEBRATION IN ART & LITERATURE, which is now in its twenty-fourth year of publication. 

  She has packaged such books as JEAN HOWARD'S HOLLYWOOD and ONLY THE BEST and edited THE CELTIC QUEST, a selection of both the Book of the Month Club and the Literary Guild. In May 2006, Welcome Books (distributed by Random House) published Lahr's SEARCHING FOR MARY MAGDALENE: A JOURNEY IN ART & LITERATURE, which won an Independent Book Publisher Award in the category of religion in 2007. That same year, Jane co-edited Joan Grant's SPEAKING FROM THE HEART: REINCARNATION & WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN. She is partner in the book packaging/agenting company, Lahr & Partners LLC. In addition to developing and promoting traveling exhibitions, Jane includes such artists as Maurice Sendak, Milton Glaser, Paul Jenkins, Robert Rahway Zakanitch, Joseph Raffael among her clients.

  The sister of THE NEW YORKER drama critic John Lahr, Jane was married to theater critic Martin Gottfried. She is now married to Sherman E. Crites of Stonington, CT, and Columbia, MO. Her daughter is writer Maya Gottfried.

  Jane is on the Board of Directors of The Abby Whiteside Foundation and The School of Images, both in New York City; the latter establishment was founded by Dr. Catherine Shainberg in 1982.

GRANDSON OF ARNOLD (BUDDY) GILLESPIE
ROBERT WELCH

Robert A. Welch is co-editor of “The Wizard of MGM,” the memoir of his Grandfather A. Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, head of special effects for the MGM studio in its heyday.  As a third generation contributor to Media and Entertainment, he has produced and direct films, designed special effects, appeared on Turner Classic Movies, and enjoys designing live theatre sets.   On the technical side of Media and Entertainment , Robert has developed streaming media technologies, video wall backdrop for real-time animation (also known as volumes), and is a member of SMPTE and the Academy. 


About Buddy Gillespie by Greg S. Faller:

The complete filmography of Arnold Gillespie is one of the largest in Hollywood, reaching nearly 600 films and almost evenly divided between art direction and special visual effects. He worked on both versions of Ben-Hur and Mutiny on the Bounty, created the visceral quality of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in San Francisco, the alien beauty of Forbidden Planet, and the maleficent nightmare of The Wizard of Oz. Gillespie's work in The Wizard of Oz demonstrated the imagination, ingenuity, and patience that became his trademark. To produce the witch's skywriting of "surrender Dorothy," he used a mixture of sheep dip and nigrosine dye released through a stylus into milk in a glass tank. The attack of the flying monkeys required the hanging of 2,200 piano wires from the sound stage's ceiling.

  When Gillespie began special effects work for MGM, the studio was an efficient organization, all facets of production departmentalized. He was head of the Special Effects Department under the titular guidance of Cedric Gibbons' Art Department and in charge of the crews who worked with miniatures, rear-screen projection, and full-scale mechanical effects. The other aspects of visual effects fell under two other main departments; the Optical Department (matte paintings and optical printing) and the Animation Department. Gillespie seemed particularly intrigued with miniatures (Circus Maximus in the original Ben-Hur, the sea battle in the 1959 remake, the tank chase in Comrade X, the ships in Torpedo Run, and the raft sequence in How the West Was Won) and full-scale mechanicals (Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet and the four Bountys used for the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty). But his forte lay in designing solutions for odd effects never before photographed. As in the skywriting effect described above, he usually employed liquids in a glass tank. To create the plague of locusts in The Good Earth, Gillespie dumped coffee grounds into a water tank, filmed their dispersal upside-down, and then superimposed the image with shots of the crops. For the atomic explosion in The Beginning of the End, he visualized a mushroom cloud before photographs and information were declassified by the government. By releasing blood bags under water and superimposing the image with a background shot, Gillespie manufactured an effect so believable and accurate that government officials thought he had access to secret materials. The footage was later used by the United States Air Corps in their instructional films.

  Gillespie had the talent and a studio system to make the remarkable, the unexperienced, the fantastic, and the cataclysmic very believable and authentic. As he described his profession in a FilmComment interview, "The whole physical end of movies, in my opinion, was so interesting because whether the picture was modern, whether it was in the future, whether it was a dream world like The Wizard of Oz or in Outer Space like Forbidden Planet, it was illusion made real."

WORLD’S PREEMINENT OZ AND JUDY GARLAND HISTORIAN/AUTHOR
JOHN FRICKE

John Fricke is widely regarded as the world’s preeminent Oz and Judy Garland historian/author. He's a two-time Emmy Award winner as co-producer of Garland TV documentaries; a Grammy Award nominee for “best album notes”; and his latest book — with Gabriel Gale — is THE ART OF OZ, which was published in 2021. John has written three books about Judy Garland, two about the MGM WIZARD OF OZ film, and two about the entire Oz phenomenon. His next title, WHITE CHRISTMAS: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE CLASSIC HOLIDAY FILM, is due for publication in 2024 in celebration of that movie's 70th anniversary. John has served as OZ-Stravaganza! emcee since 1990. He has lectured at Hollywood's Turner Classic Movies Film Festival and at Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art; at France’s Deauville Film Festival; and at London’s National Film Theatre. He delivers the commentary tracks on eight Garland movie DVDs (including THE WIZARD OF OZ), and he has often appeared on TCM, The TODAY Show, CNN, and NPR.

17TH CENTURY SLIPWARE ARTISAN
IRMA STARR

Irma Starr’s artistic journey has been a trip back in time; she is a 17th-century slipware artist. While viewing the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s famous Burnap Collection of ceramics, Irma fell in love with the slipware mermaid on a plate, by English slipware artist Ralph Toft, and has never looked back.

Irma Starr began her journey in 1963, when, as a mother of two and a senior at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), she was given a life-changing assignment; go to the Nelson-Atkins, just across the street from KCAI, choose a piece of ceramic art and reproduce it. The rest is history. In 2002, she was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute to create a 36-inch commemorative plate for the 30th Anniversary of the Renwick Gallery, where it is now hanging.

She is accomplished in all of the classic glazing techniques: combing, feathering, marbling, and slip-trailing. Starr has been commissioned by private connoisseurs, museums, companies, and the White House to create commemorative pieces.

Her works of art include commemorative plates, decorative ornaments, jewelry and figurines including:


The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art commissioned her to create a commemorative plate for the Renwick’s 30th anniversary.

Her work can be seen at leading museums around the nation, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the National Museum of American Art and her Wonderful Wizard of Oz pieces are now exclusively available at the All Things Oz Museum in Chittenango, NY.

COMPOSER
STEVE MARGOSHES
Steve Margoshes composed the score for Fame-The Musical, the inspirational show about New York’s High School of the Performing Arts. Fame has played worldwide for 25 years, and is still going strong.

He has orchestrated many Broadway musicals, including Big River (Drama Desk Award), The Who’s Tommy (Drama Desk Award), Aida (by Elton John & Tim Rice), Smokey Joe’s Café, and Soul Doctor (Drama Desk nomination). He has contributed to many Jim Steinman recordings (including Bat Out of Hell), orchestrated Steinman’s musical Tanz der Vampire (directed by Roman Polanski and still running in Germany and Austria after 25 years), and has written special symphonic arrangements for Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

With Hair authors James Rado & Gerome Ragni he composed the musicals Sun and Jack Sound. Steve has composed for symphony, ballet, rock recordings, and songs in various styles in addition to his many-faceted shows. An extensive body of his “pops” pieces for orchestra was recorded by the Budapest Symphony on Hungaraton & Albany Records. This Is Forever, an after-life piano rhapsody, featured Steve at the piano with the orchestra. The solo piano version (also with Steve performing) was choreographed by Jacqulyn Buglisi & presented at the Joyce Theater NYC as part of the 20th anniversary of Buglisi Dance Theatre. 

Also among the body of work recorded in Budapest is American Parade, which was performed by the West Point Army Band and became the subject of a documentary (of the same name) by filmmaker Frank Basile.

Steve is now writing original OZ-themed songs, and as such, is indeed the Songsmith of Oz! Steve will be discussing the project this year at the festival.

OZ ILLUSTRATOR (AGES OF OZ SERIES & THE ART OF OZ)
GABRIEL GALE
Gabriel Gale is the creator of the Ages of Oz series, the first two books of which were written by Lisa Fiedler and published by Simon & Schuster: A Fiery Friendship and A Dark Descent. His personal association with Oz and its citizens is described in his greeting at the onset of The Art of Oz, a new book of his illustrations, with text by John Fricke, afterword by Michael Patrick Hearn, and packaged by Jane Lahr for Rizzoli. Mr. Gale was born in Brooklyn, NY, where the Bay Ridge Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library provided his initial passage to Oz. He is a graduate of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. His illustrated talks about Oz have delighted elementary, middle, and high school students from coast-to-coast; he has entertained all ages in similar appearances at bookstores throughout the country, as well as at the major national Oz festivals. When not working in Oz, Mr. Gale makes his home in New York City.

The Art of Oz book can be purchased at the All Things Oz Museum Gift Shop at https://www.shopallthingsoz.org/product/book-the-art-of-oz-witches-wizards-and-wonders-beyond-the-yellow-brick-road/454?cp=true&sa=false&sbp=false&q=true

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