Kool Kat of the Week: We’re Off To See The Wizard Mark A. Harmon: There’s No Place Like the Fabulous Fox This Week!

Posted on: Jun 23rd, 2016 By:
Mark A. Harmon

Mark A. Harmon plays Professor Marvel, aka the Wizard of Oz in the new musical adaptation this week at the Fox Theatre.

By Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

There is little in American pop culture as universally, cross-generationally and continuously beloved as the 1939 film adaptation of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Everyone knows the characters, the songs, and why wicked witches don’t shower. The national tour of stage musical THE WIZARD OF OZ, running June 21-26 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, takes audiences arm-in-arm back down the Yellow Brick Road.

Oz had already appeared on the big screen by the time Judy Garland went over the rainbow, including silent versions in 1910 and 1925, and a 1933 cartoon, as well as several stage versions (including one by author L. Frank Baum himself in 1902). However, it’s the MGM classic that became the definitive version immediately upon its release 77 years ago this summer. It was nominated for Best Picture (but lost to GONE WITH THE WIND) and won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

The musical, which premiered in London in 2011, is based on the 1939 film, with all your favorite moments reimagined for the stage. That means Munchkins, flying monkeys, and dead witches! And what would Oz be without the vibrant Technicolor hues of the film—ruby slippers on yellow bricks to the Emerald City! Expect the same rainbow palate on stage. In addition to the classic songs, the production features new songs by musical theater legends Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Wizard of Oz himself, Mark A. Harmon, took a few minutes last week to chat with ATLRetro.

ATLRetro: I’d wager you’ve been an enormous fan of the 1939 MGM masterpiece your entire life, but I guess you don’t necessarily have to be. Why did you want to be in this production?

Mark A. Harmon: Of course! I’ve been a huge fan! I remember as a child one of the major television networks would run it once a year I believe around Thanksgiving. It was always a major event that you waited for all year. I have to admit that when I was asked to audition I was a little hesitant at first. I thought “How can you possibly do a live version that could even come close to the beauty of the movie?” Then I saw some clips from the first national tour and was completely blown away! We’re seven months into the tour and I’m still amazed at the production quality of this show.

Professor Marvel brings his magical wagon to Kansas in THE WIZARD OF OZ stage adaptation.

Professor Marvel brings his magical wagon to Kansas in THE WIZARD OF OZ stage adaptation.

What new does this production bring to the story?

The main story remains faithful to the movie and all the original songs are performed. There are new songs added by the brilliant Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. One of them is “Wonders of the World” which is sung by yours truly as Professor Marvel. There have also been some changes to the dialogue. But rest assured, all your favorite lines are still there.

As an actor, is it difficult preparing for such a famous role?

It is a little daunting at first. There’s always the possibility of being compared to such a well known performance. But each actor brings a unique quality to their role. Even though the audience may have a familiar performance in their head, I believe they quickly start accepting you as that character.

In addition to the 1939 film, there have been countless adaptations, interpretations, sequels and prequels to Baum’s original book (1900). What is it about the story that has kept inspiring revisits to Oz for over a century?

I’m sure there are whole books devoted to answering that question. But for me personally, I think it’s one of the classic coming of age stories. What adolescent hasn’t felt misunderstood and wanted to run away?

Dorothy and her friends meet Oz the Great and Powerful in the Emerald City,

Dorothy and her friends meet Oz the Great and Powerful in the Emerald City,

What’s it like on the road? Do you get to spend any time exploring the cities you visit?

It depends entirely on the schedule. This is my third tour and I’m not going to lie, some can be downright grueling. I’ve done tours where we’ve played five or six cities in one week traveling by bus. I think it’s important for people to know that when you go see a touring show, especially one that is only playing one or two nights, that the actors may very well have spent anywhere up to eight hours on a bus that day. This one, however, has been without a doubt the most enjoyable mainly because of the fact that we’ve been playing each city for no less than a week. It’s been such a treat to be able to have the time to do some real exploring!

Thanks again for chatting with ATLRetro. Break a leg!  Anything else you want to mention?

You’re very welcome and thank you.  I’d just like to say that I’m so excited to be returning to the beautiful Fox Theatre and invite everyone, young and old, to come see this spectacular production of THE WIZARD OF OZ!

The Wizard of Oz runs June 21-26 at The Fox Theatre. Show times and ticket information are available  here. All photos are used with permission.

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ATLRetro’s Throw Back to the 20th Century New Year’s Eve Guide – Our Top Ten Vitally Vintage Eras for Toasting 2015

Posted on: Dec 29th, 2014 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor/Contributing Writer

Ring in the New Year in vintage-style with Retro Atlanta!  Come celebrate what once was in 2014 and welcome with open arms what will be in Pallookaville2015! Start your new year off with a bang with all the hoppin’ shindigs we’ve found for you!

1. And All That Jazz. Ring in the New Year NOLA-style with the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra at Pallookaville! You’re guaranteed a funky time that includes a kid’s corndog drop followed by the grown-folks’ celebration! Corndogs, 2 Line Strut and Klezmer, oh my! The celebration is free and starts at 8:30pm! Or jazz it up Broadway-style and take a trip to Serenbe Playhouse’s “A Cabaret Celebrating Judy Garland” with award-winning actress Natasha Drena at 10:30pm! And stick around to boogie down at their NYE dance party, all taking place in the Farmhouse Restaurant in Serenbe!

Basement2. Hey, Daddy-O! Twist into 2015 at The Basement during Electric WesternsKeep on Movin! New Year’s Dance Party! featuring a night chock full of ‘60s rock-n-roll, soul, doo-wop and more! The DJs will have you hoppin’, so get dressed up to boogie down! Complimentary midnight toast to ring in the New Year and doors at 8pm! Or let The Star Bar show you where it’s at during their New Years’ Eve Bash & ‘50s and ‘60s Dance Party! Kool Kats Gringo Star will be delivering a whole set of ‘50s tunes while Kool Kat Joshua Longino and Andrew & the Disapyramids will be blastin’ out the sounds of the ‘60s! And that’s not all folks! Black Linen, Zoners will be rockin’ you into 2015! Rock out for $10 bucks and a free champagne toast at midnight! Doors at 8pm.Michelle Malone

3. Deep Roots. Ponder 2014 by getting to the root of it all! For a New Year’s Eve filled with foot stompin’ Americana, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, make your way to Eddie’s Attic for two hoppin’ helpings of the sultry Michelle Malone and her New Year’s Eve show! First show at 7pm! Second show includes special guest Hannah Thomas and starts at 9:45pm! Or get toasty bluegrass-style with BlueBilly Grit at the Crimson Moon Café at 8pm! And get down and dirty at Clermont Lounge, the seedy land of debauchery, as they bring you a rockin’ hootenanny this NYE with Reverend Hylton & the Devil’s Hands, Caleb Warren & the Perfect Gentlemen and Coldheart Canyon! Doors at 9pm with a free champagne toast at midnight!

 5.7BeverlyGW4. That’s Why They Call it the Blues. For some classic blues and jazz, shimmy on down to Blind Willie’s for their Bluesy New Year’s Eve with the powerhouse vocals of Francine Reed! Doors at 7pm and $50 gets you guaranteed seating, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight! Or fire up the blues at the Northside Tavern with Mudcat’s Rockin’ Blues New Year’s Eve Party featuring Danny ‘Mudcat’ Dudeck, Eddie Tigner, Lola, Albert White, the Atlanta Horns and more! $20 cover includes party favors and champagne with doors at 9pm! Fat Matt’s Rib Shack dishes out the low-down dirty blues with the hard-stompin’ Beverly “Guitar” Watkins this New Year’s Eve! Doors at 8pm! And blues on down to Darwin’s Burgers & Blues for their “Kickin’ it LIVE into One-Five” New Year’s Eve Party with Truett Lollis and his Dixie-fried blues and blue-eyed soul! $10 gets you appetizers, desserts and a champagne toast at midnight! Doors at PiedmontParkTavern9:30pm!

5. Smooth Operator. Get ‘70s toasty and smooth in 2015 with Yacht Rock Revue at Park Tavern! And you won’t want to miss special guests Yacht Rock Schooner bringin’ in the funk! So, rock on down and set sail into 2015 with Yacht Rock Revue’s NYE party, featuring an open bar, s’mores, a Mixtape Atlanta photo booth and more! Doors at 9pm!

jagged-stones-jpeg6. Rock Across the Pond. Kick off 2015 with Atlanta’s favorite Rolling Stones’ tribute band, The Jagged Stones with special guests The Big Chicken Beatles Band, paying homage to the Beatles, live at The Strand Theater! Doors at 9pm! Or ring in the New Year with a Brit Invasion at Smith’s Olde Bar in the Atlanta Room with The Backyard BirdsNew Year’s Eve Bash! $10 cover and doors at 8pm!Phillips Arena The Isley Brothers

7. Groovin’ Up Slowly. Get funky and ring in the New Year with a little old school funk ‘n’ soul! Toast the New Year at Philips Arena with their NYE Affordable Old School Music Fest, featuring The Isley Brothers, Morris Day, Mint Condition and more! Doors at 7pm! Or get your NOLA funk rock fix at The Family Dog with theirA NOLA NYE with Gravy Live & Abita Brewingevent! You won’t want to miss the funktastic grooves of Gravy and special tasty treats! $10 cover and doors at 8pm! And cook it up at Cook Hall this New Year’s Eve with Moontower, funkin’ you all night long at their funk-filled holiday fiesta! No cover, doors at 10pm!

Marys8. We’re Stayin’ Alive! In Retro Atlanta that is! Boogie on down to Mary’s in East Atlanta for their annual Attack of the New Year’s Eve Party Monster event, featuring DJs 5 HR Boner & Sam Rothstein spinning your favorite disco, indie, house and rock! There’s no cover and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight! Celebration begins at 9 pm! Hula into the New Year boogie-style during the Trader Vic’s Soul Tiki Disco Dance Party featuring Bogey & the Viceroy and Mai Tais galore! $10 in advance/$15 at the door. Band goes on at 9pm!

9. The Cure for Bananarama. New-Wave is the epitome of 80’s pop culture, so celebrate 2014 while toasting 2015 by continuing The Shelter’s NYE tradition at the Famous Pub with Kool Kat VJ Anthony at their 6th Annual New Wave New Year’s Eve Party! Dress New-Wave, win prizes! The festivities beginFamous Pub at 10pm and $10 gets you party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, a ton of super rare New-Wave music videos and a bunch more surprises! Or get really ‘80s New Year’s Eve style at Bone Lick BBQ at their NYE in 3-D ‘80s-themed 3-D bash! Ring in the New Year with free retro arcade games, 3-D movies, complimentary champagne and more! Tickets are $5 in advance and $45 at the door and event begins at 10pm! And you won’t want to miss Kool Kat Becky EarlCormier Finch with Denim Arcade partying like it’s 1989 dishing out their ‘80s tributes at Wild Wing Café in Suwannee at 10pm!

10. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! Get rebellious and rock into the New Year with some old school punk and plain ol’ retro-inspired rock-n-roll and metal! The Earl delivers a rockin’ NYE Bash punkin’ you into the New Year with The Biters, Dinos Boys, Ravagers, MammaBear and more! $10 cover, doors at 9pm! Or get mischievous and sinful at Hottie Hawgs BBQ during their Boss Hawgs’ New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Sin City Atlanta, delivering a rockin’ AC/DC tribute! Celebration starts at 7pm and stick around for a taste of “wild beast” and a special light show! Ring in the New Year with some old-school blues rock with Gregg Allman at Atlanta Symphony Hall at 9pm! And toast 2015 at Smith’s Olde Bar’s Music Room with a NYE Bash with The Swinging Richards and Buck O Five! $10 cover in advance, $15 day of show. Doors at 8pm!

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