The Great & Terrible Wizard of Oz


A modern twist down the yellow brick road

By Phillip Klapperich 

Adapted from L. Frank Baum 

Directed by Tommy Rapley 


RUN DATES: March 18–May 7

TIMES: Thursdays & Fridays 7:30, Saturdays 3:00 & 7:30, Sundays 3:00 & 7:00

PRICES: $15 - $45

AGES: With some unexpected turns down the yellow brick road, this retelling is best for audiences 10 and up. Read the Parents' Guide. 


RUN TIME: Two hours and 15 minutes including an intermission




★★★★ - Time Out Chicago Recommended

This "fresh interpretation offers plenty to recommend it. The House is at it's best when it makes us believe in wizardry while we're seeing behind the curtain." - Kris Vire


★★★ - Chicago Tribune Recommended

"An emotional contemporary telling... Very hip, cleverly theatrical, and quite potent in its imaginative power." - Chris Jones


A twister lands our teenage Dorothy and her house in Munchkinland. Right on top of a wicked witch.  Her phone won't work, her dog is scared, and she's desperate to get home to what little family she has left.  But the town's residents are gleefully celebrating Dorothy's powers as the fabled Witch Slayer. When Glinda and the munchkins can't convince her to stick around and be their new hero, they send her off on the road of yellow brick wearing magical boots soaked in the red blood of the slain witch. A favor from the fabled all-powerful Wizard will be her only chance to get out of Oz.


Unsure about her path forward, Dorothy teams up with a one-day-old Scarecrow, a heartbroken Tin Woodsman, and the Cowardly Lion. Her boots, and their friendships, guard against lots of danger on their way to the Emerald City. But the Wizard will ask the Witch Slayer to live up to her violent and vengeful new name in exchange for a return ticket to her old life.  If she can get home, Kansas may never be the same.


The creatures of Oz come to life with puppets large and small by Jesse Mooney-Bullock (The Hammer Trinity), and music from company member Kevin O'Donnell. With fighting monkeys flying in the air overhead, and enveloping projections on all sides of the theatre, you will walk right alongside Dorothy on this adventure.




"The pleasures increase exponentially!"

RECOMMENDED - Chicago Reader 
"Inventive, amusing, and familiar"

RECOMMENDED - The Fourth Walsh 
"Equally impressive and intense!"

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Chicago Theatre Review 
"Be prepared to be astounded."


Show Dates: Mar 17 2017 to May 7 2017 Location:

Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St, Chicago






  • Eleanor Kahn
    Props Designer
  • Veronica Bustoz
    Assistant Stage Manager
  • Rachael Koplin
    Floor Manager
  • Bobby Huggins
    Technical Director
  • CoCo Ree Lemery
    Scenic Charge
  • Jerica Hucke
    Costume Manager
  • John Kelly
    Master Electrican
  • Maddy Low
    Assistant Costume Manager
Flying Monkeys in Rehearsal!
Parent's Guide

Greetings! Thanks for your interest in our production of The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz!  We are recommending this slightly darker take on this familiar story for audience members aged 10 and up. If you are wondering if this show is right for the younger theatre-goers or students in your life, read on.


The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz is our modern retelling of the classic American fairy tale.  (Modern retelling = Dorothy with a smartphone and a life outside the farm!  Spoiler Alert - Smartphones aren’t very helpful in the land of Oz.) All the characters you know and love emerge in new and exciting ways as we join Dorothy on her quest to find a way home and perhaps learn more about her true self along the way.


This is a full length play.

The performance is in two acts, with one intermission, so will run about 2 hours and 15 minutes all told. A great amount of time to dig in for older kids and grown ups.


This characters and story will feel familiar, with some surprising and hopefully meaningful twists.  

If the young theatre goer in your life has seen the movie or read the book, they will instantly connect with their favorite characters from the land of Oz.  In classic House fashion, we’re putting our spin on the merry band who are off to see the wizard!  For example our lady Scarecrow seems to have a pretty severe case of short-term memory loss (ala Dory from Finding Nemo.)  Our Tin Man suffered a cruel heartbreak which he croons about on acoustic guitar. Outwardly, he seems utterly heartless and carries an extremely sharp ax. And our Lion has a cowardly cowboy twang.


Our beloved hero, Dorothy, is not only embarking on a journey to find her way home, but she is also searching for her true identity.

Dorothy, like lots of teenagers today, isn't even out of High School yet and already people are asking her what she wants to do with her life and who she wants to be as an adult. In OZ, she is immediately labeled “Witchslayer” and praised for killing the Witch of the East.  She is extremely uncomfortable with this newly bestowed title… but she would like to make the residents of Oz happy... Our play follows Dorothy as she confronts other people's expectations for her as she tries to take ownership over her own story.


A few bad words and scary things happen in the forest.

Although our merry band encounter many familiar adventures and setbacks as they travel down the Road of Yellow Brick, the stakes become considerably higher as they make their way toward the Wicked Witch of the West.  Therefore there might be one or two curse words spoken in response to these higher stakes.  


A big scary puppet monster called the Kalidah confronts our travelers. The Tin Woodsman fights him off, and gives the Lion (who ran away instead of joining the fight) a pretty hard-core lecture about shaping up and protecting Dorothy.

Special effects like peeling witch skin, flying monkeys, and floating holographic Wizard heads make us all want to high-five in amazement, but may give younger guests a reason to need to sit a little closer to you for reassurance!


There is also one more decidedly dark twist that we have incorporated into this beloved tale...




We’ll deal with death and grief.

About halfway through act 2, Toto, everyone’s favorite canine companion, is killed by a flying monkey while trying to protect Dorothy. Our flying monkeys really fly, by the way! With the assistance of some wires and harnesses, but STILL!  It’s pretty awesome!  Sorry...back to Toto.  This dark and unexpected turn of events took many audience members by surprise when we first produced this show back in 2005.  It is not uncommon for a hero to lose a close companion as part of her story.  Dealing with the death of a loved one is often a defining moment in many coming of age tales and so it is with Dorothy.  


We’ll end at Dorothy’s next beginning.

As the play comes to an end, Dorothy’s smart, brave and loving companions have all acquired the qualities that they were seeking.  Dorothy, however, realizes that her journey is just beginning. The ending is hopeful, but it’s not exactly “and they all lived happily ever after.”  There will be no clicking of heels in this production. Just a long walk towards her future.


Mike Smith

Director of Education

& Cowardly Lion