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An homage, an honor to L. Frank Baum

Raymond Wohl will perform two local shows this month honoring L. Frank Baum, the man behind The Wizard of Oz.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Raymond Wohl is taking people down the yellow brick road to tell the story behind “The First Royal Historian of Oz,” author L. Frank Baum.

Wohl will be at New Castle’s Raintree Square at 6:30 p.m. April 26 with his one-man sing-along version of “The Wizard of Oz.” The vaudevillian show has Wohl portraying 35 iconic characters and leading the audience in 12 songs from the famous 1939 movie.

“It’s a ‘best of’ show,” Wohl said.

Talking about the performance, Wohl launches into a rapid-fire delivery of favorite lives and song snippets. He said the trunk show runs about 20 minutes and will have people humming tunes all the way home.

Wohl will perform “The Real Wizard of Oz: the stories behind the stories of L. Frank Baum” at 2 p.m. April 27 in the Aurora Theater at Guyer Opera House.

“It’s a solo memoir play,” Wohl said.

As prolific a writer as L. Frank Baum was, he never told the story of his own life. Wohl is changing that with his new show.

This new play tells how Baum looked for stories across the Midwest, writing 90 minutes every day as he traveled around selling china and crockery.

Baum also owned the weekly Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer newspaper before he penned the 14 “Wizard of Oz” books.

Wohl said publishing companies initially rejected Baum’s story because “America doesn’t have its own fairy tales.” Then, after finally accepting it, they wanted the author to drop the colorful pictures.

Baum stuck with his vision and put his own money on the line to create what the world now sees as a classic.

The 60-minute performance April 27 at the Guyer will be the audience premiere of Wohl’s “The Real Wizard of Oz” show, 100 years after Baum passed away.

After Guyer, Wohl will perform his show at Oz: The National Convention in Thibodaux, Louisiana and at OzCon International in Pomona, California.

The humorous solo theater event is performed in period costumes with a trunk of props and authentic music from the time period. The program can be adapted to any performance space and adjusted to fit the presenter’s theme or program.

Wohl said “The Real Wizard of Oz” is both fun and funny, and will inspire audiences of all ages with its honest, genuine and heart-felt message. 

Before bringing characters from “The Wizard of Oz” to life, Wohl was a classroom teacher for 25 years. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, and first encountered “The Wizard of Oz” over 50 years ago with his 11 brothers and sisters who always remind him that, ‘There’s no place like home!”

“Oz In A Trunk” is at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Raintree Square Retirement Community, 2820 S. Memorial Dr., New Castle.

“The Real Wizard of Oz: Stories of L. Frank Baum” is 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Guyer Opera House, 110 W. Main St., Lewisville.

Both shows are free, with free-will donations accepted.

Visit the Guyer Opera House Facebook page for more information.