Five Wickedly Awesome Wizard of Oz Spin-offs

With the wonderful 'Wicked' currently taking the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre over the rainbow, we thought it was a good time to pick our five absolute favourite Oz-inspired spin-offs.

Still of Elphaba in the Wicked UK and Ireland tour
Image: Matt Crockett


Wicked the musical, based on the Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, has won over 100 international awards and has been seen by more than 55 million people around the world. Not so happy little bluebirds fly in the politically divided Oz of this blockbuster show. Telling the story from the perspective of the witches, it’s plot begins before and continues after Dorothy Gale’s arrival in Oz from Kansas. Wicked is about two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. Let’s just say, a lot happened before Dorothy dropped in.

  It’s at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre right now, read our review here.



The Wicked Years

Wicked the musical touches upon, but barely skims the agenda at the heart of Gregory Maguire’s original novel, in which the Wizard of Oz is leading a Nazi-like program against talking animals, who have equal intellectual powers with humans. Against this background, the first book of The Wicked Years quadrilogy explores the nature of good and evil in humanity, along with telling a cracking-good origin story. Its follow-ups, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz all feature similarly political themes, and expand into an epic saga, at the end of which Dorothy returns to the merry old land of Oz for one final showdown with Elphaba’s granddaughter, Rain. Buy the books here.



You could while away the hours with Geoff Ryman’s critically acclaimed novel, which travels across time and space to tell three intertwining stories, all connected to Frank L Baum’s original book. In 1800s Kansas, Dorothy Gael struggles in the abusive home of her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, until an inspiring new teacher, Mr. Baum, helps her escape into a new world with her imagination. In 1930s Hollywood, little Frances Gumm is dealing with the break up of her parents’ marriage because her father is gay. And in the 1980s, Jonathan, a gay actor suffering with AIDS, goes on a pilgrimage to rediscover his childhood love of the film starring Judy Garland (real name Frances Gumm). It’s a riveting and deeply moving read. Buy Was here.


The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz’

Opening on Broadway in 1975, The Wiz, an all-black, soul musical version of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz blended a Motown sound with Frank L Baum’s novel to re-imagine Dorothy’s journey down the Yellow Brick Road as the African American experience of America. With music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, it eased on down the road to win seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical and was made into a film in 1978, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as The Scarecrow and Richard Pryor as The Wizard. Despite its star-power, the film version was a critical flop, but it quickly gained cult status.


The Muppets ‘Wizard of Oz’

“Oz was never like this,” promises the trailer for The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, and it’s right. Basically, every other adaptation on this list takes the world of Oz very seriously. The Muppets, as they are wont to do, take the opposite tactic, infusing visual jokes and one-liners into nearly every frame of this trip down the Yellow Brick Road. Starring Ashanti as Dorothy, an aspiring singer who lives in a Kansas trailer park; when she gets to Oz, instead of wanting to go home, she asks the Wizard to make her famous. Queen Latifah, Quentin Tarantino, and Jeffrey Tambor all make appearances, and although it wasn’t a huge critical success, it’s a very adult version of the story complete with shedloads of satire, and we love it.


Bonus Feature: Shirley does ‘Defying Gravity’

If you haven’t seen Shirley Temple Bar and Dolly Grip’s version of ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked at Bingo! at The George yet, well, you haven’t lived. This YouTube version does it some justice, but it has to be seen live for the ultimate thrill. After all, everyone deserves a chance to fly!


Wicked is at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until September 1, book your tickets here. For best seats choose Tue-Thu performances and Sunday Matinees.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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