We let you know a few months ago that another take on The Wizard of Oz was coming, and unlike all the other big ones in development, this one was going to be animated. At the time Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and Martin Short had signed on to provide voices, but there was still no one to voice Dorothy in this new, musical take on the story.
Today we heard again from the producers behind the film, and it seems they've struck casting gold: Lea Michele, of Glee fame and Broadway pedigree, will be making her feature voice acting debut as Dorothy, and will contribute vocals to several musical numbers as well. Also signing on recently are Hugh Dancy, Oliver Platt, Patrick Stewart and Broadway's Megan Hilty. They've also decided to produce the film in stereoscopic 3D, an announcement that really should not come as a surprise. Earlier we reported that a release date was planned for next April, but now it seems production won't even finish until the end of 2011. It may be a while before we see Dorothy of Oz in theaters, but with casting this spot-on, it may just be worth the wait.
Check out the full press release below.
Los Angeles, CA -- Today production company Summertime Entertainment makes an official casting announcement for their anticipated animated musical feature film, “Dorothy of Oz”. This announcement also includes the decision to produce the film in Stereoscopic 3D, and the launch of a new interactive teaser website, www.dorothyofoz.com.
In the film, the title and beloved role of Dorothy Gale will be played by Golden-Globe nominated actress Lea Michele, star of television’s hit series “Glee”. Also known for her acclaimed Broadway roles in Spring Awakening and Les Misérables, Lea makes her feature film and animation voice-over debut with “Oz” and will also be providing vocals on several original musical numbers.
The new comedic book character roles of Wiser the Owl and the delicate China Princess will be respectively voiced by Oliver Platt (2012, Frost/Nixon, Nip/Tuck, Huff, West Wing), and Broadway veteran Megan Hilty (star of the musical ‘9 to 5’). “Dorothy of Oz” also marks Hilty’s second venture into Oz after a successful run as Glinda in the national tour of Wicked. British Actor Hugh Dancy (Ella Enchanted, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Black Hawk Down) will play the soft-hearted and candy-coated Marshall Mallow, and Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek) will voice the humorous old soul and adventure-seeking Tugg. Set to be a musical with its main singing talents now in place, legendary singer/songwriter, Oscar nominee and 15-time Grammy winner Bryan Adams is currently moving forward on the first songs and lyrics for the film along with writing partner Jim Vallance.
Emmy and Tony award-winning Martin Short will play the Jester, the new arch-nemesis of Dorothy and all of Oz. The Jester is “a performer without his coveted audience” and the role is rife with comedy, song, and lighthearted wickedness. Comedian/actor Jim Belushi will portray the Lion, who is reveling in his new role as guardian and protector of Oz. Continuously attempting to remove the word "Cowardly" from his moniker with little success, he is forced to overcompensate with acts of exaggerated bravado. Academy award-nominated Dan Aykroyd will be voicing the Scarecrow, who famously once sang "If I only had a brain," but has learned one should be careful what they wish for as now he finds himself in a position of authority that is entirely unfamiliar. Emmy award-winning and current Tony-nominee Kelsey Grammer rounds out the cast as the Tin Man, who with his new found heart is literally wearing his emotions on his sleeve and now needs to carry an extra oil can due to all his weeping.
Dorothy of OZ is the first in a slated series of animated feature films by Summertime Entertainment, based on the writings of acclaimed children's author Roger S. Baum. Mr. Baum's work continues the legacy of his great-grandfather L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books, through new stories of Dorothy's adventures in the enchanted Land of Oz, and the magical friends she meets along the way. ‘Summertime’ is a family genre entertainment company run by filmmakers Ryan Carroll and Roland Carroll, and executive team René Torres, James A. Jones, and Neil L. Kaufman. “We are very excited to be transitioning from filmmakers to creators of branded story franchises” shared James, “and are delighted to have this ideal opportunity to bring the Oz brand forward into the 21st century.”
The “Oz” sequel is being helmed by veteran animation producer Bonne Radford (who also produced Curious George, The Road the El Dorado, Balto and creatively contributed on over 20 more films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Goonies and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial). The film is directed by long-time Disney contributor Dan St. Pierre (whose various credits include Everyone’s Hero, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and Shark Tale). Musical components will be supervised by Vicki Hiatt (Ali, Hannibal, Madagascar and Open Season), additional songs by Grammy-award winning songwriter Tift Merritt and lyricist Mike Himelstein, and Emmy-award winning composer Jim Dooley (Pushing Daisies) will contribute to the score. Rounding out the musical team will be pop choreographer Tyce Diorio, who also recently won an Emmy award for his work as a choreographer and guest judge on FOX’s hit “So You Think You Can Dance”. Dorothy of Oz is being cast by Matthew Jon Beck (Lilo & Stitch, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo) and the screenplay is written by Randi Barnes, Adam Balsam and Barry Glasser.
Regarding the new casting, Bonne Radford says “We could not be more thrilled to have this new cast in place. Each of these amazing actors AND singers will immensely help with our constant goal: to pay homage to this indelible and beloved franchise while updating it for a brand new generation, and in the exciting medium of 3D animation , perfectly suited to this magical land”.
An interactive teaser website has been launched at www.dorothyofoz.com, and the film’s marketing campaign being run by CW3PR intends to use corresponding social networking sites to launch several online apps and activities over the coming months including a grassroots “gift a yellow brick to help re-pave the Emerald City road” viral game. A release date for the film has yet to be set, but production is scheduled to finish in late 2011.