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LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN

A Heroine's Journey
Just as iconic as the world of Oz itself is so is its unlikely heroine: Dorothy Gale. LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN picks up just as Dorothy has returned to Kansas, worse for wear from the tornado that swept her away to Oz in the first place. Not only does her hometown need help in its recovery, but the world of Oz soon beckons as the Scarecrow sends her a message that they're in danger, too.

"The main theme of LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN picks up from when Dorothy left off when she got home. She believed really strongly that there's no place like home: she really valued it, but when she got there, something was wrong with it. So there was something else to be learned for her," says Radford. "She had this new confidence in herself, that she was strong an invincible, but it only had to do with her. And in the face of a big disaster at home or problems in Oz, she couldn't solve it by herself. She could persevere, she could pick herself up by the bootstraps and not give up, but how was she going to be able to solve these problems facing Kansas and Oz?"

With Dorothy's dilemma central to the narrative and the thematic heart of the film, casting the role was of paramount importance. Around that time, a little television show called "Glee" was getting rave notices, many for its fictional high school's most talented singer Rachel Berry, played by Broadway vet Lea Michele. Just as she got attention from the viewing public, she piqued the interest of the filmmakers. "Lea Michele has the voice of an angel, and she can act," says Radford. "We couldn't be more thrilled at having her be our new Dorothy,"

For Michele, landing this role this was a dream come true. "THE WIZARD OF OZ was such an important film for me. At the time, I didn't really know I could sing. But watching Judy Garland, and watching the film and hearing the music, it really helped develop me into the performer I am. As a little girl, I wanted to be Dorothy and I'm here now. It's kind of crazy."

Casting the role of Dorothy not only meant filling big shoes, but also bringing in an actress who was willing to take the character in a new direction for both diehard fans and a new generation of children. "This is definitely a different side of Dorothy. She's spunky, she's brave, she's tough. It does definitely have that sort of elegance and softness that Judy Garland brought to the role, but I feel I'm showing a little bit more of her youthful side," explains Michele. "The way Dorothy approaches obstacles in LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN is with a little bit more guts. I like that about her. I think she's a great character for young girls to look at and see as being still sweet - and with that lovely heart that Dorothy has - but with a new sense of bravery."

It also provided Michele with a welcome opportunity to stretch as an artist while still devoting much of her time to her hit TV show. "I thoroughly enjoy being at William McKinley High School Monday through Friday at "Glee," but I did most of my LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN voice-over sessions on the weekends, and it was really nice to step into a different world and play another character for a little while," says Michele. "It was such a thrill to get to come in my sweatpants - which I really enjoy - and look a mess and just get to focus on the voice. I get to do all different kinds of things on "Glee," but this is something totally different."

Dan Aykroyd, who plays Dorothy's friend the Scarecrow, agrees with the filmmakers' choice to cast Michele: "The torch must be passed, and Lea Michele is doing a beautiful job of revisiting the essence of the Dorothy character and then putting in tones and notes that her contemporaries and the new generation can relate to." Adds Megan Hilty, who plays the China Princess, "What I really love about LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN is how strong Dorothy is. You really get to see another side of her in this film, and Lea does an amazing job bringing that to life. It's great for young girls to see, and that's something I've loved about the Oz franchise."

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