Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pre-Show Rituals

Actors all have their individual pre-show warm-ups – Vocal exercises that seem nutso to random passerby, but are excellent for warming up vocal cords, to yoga and Pilates stretches on the set, to under-breath tongue twisters while pacing backstage (Jake Elsas, who plays the Wizard, and myself traded variations on “The Big Black Bear.”)

But this is the first show I’ve been involved in where the cast has bonded to such a degree that they do group pre-show rituals. Because it’s such an ensemble piece, and there’s so much happening onstage, they play improv games in order to get the creative juices flowing, as well as sharpening focus and concentration. Yes, it would seem nutso to the random passerby as they stand in a circle and shout things like “Zip! Zap! Zop!” while rapidly jabbing fingers at each other. But it’s actually helping them get their energy levels up after what seems like the ten thousandth show. (None of us can remember what life was like before the show, though I’m sure we’ll figure it out soon.)

My favorite part comes when Stephaine Boltjies, our awesome stage director, calls for places. We all circle up, do a Go Team hands in, and then shout “OZ!” and dance around to the Go Bananas song for a few moments. There really is nothing better than being able to dance with your cast. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 17

Dear Toto,

I've always wondered about your background. No disrespect to Dorothy, but it's obvious that she's a "hick from the sticks" or "local yokel" (as they say in the urban port cities). You, on the other hand, are far more worldly and self-assured. It's simply undeniable! For example, when you and Dorothy travel to Oz, who greets every sight with a slack jaw and eyes a-poppin'? Hint: it's not you. So where do you originally hail from and how did you ever end up on a dreary little farm in Kansas? (I will understand if you can't say anything due to matters of national security, but I sincerely hope that will not be the case.)


Curiouser and Curiouser

Hi Curiouser and Curiouser!

I originally hailed from my mom, though thankfully, I don’t remember a thing about the experience. A lot of people ask me about my breed, and to that I say, hey, YOU try drinking out of a water bowl and coming away with a spotless muzzle….huh? What? Breed, not Breeding?


My breed is Mutt, with an emphasis on terrier. And as to Breeding, I do the best I can. Again, Exhibit A – Low Water Bowl Means No One Comes Away From It Looking Awesome.

As to how did I end up on a farm? Well, um, gosh. Let me ask YOU Curiouser. What’s the first thing you remember out of your whole life? Do you remember being small? Do you remember how you got home from the people hospital? No? Neither do I!

As far back as I remember, it’s always been me and Dorothy, Dorothy and me. There’s not a day that goes by that she’s not in. She’s the very first thing I remember out of all my days. I don’t remember anything before her, and I don’t wanna remember anything without her.

Cause Dorothy’s pretty damn cool.

As far as my cool collected demeanor when we landed in Oz, it’s because, well, I’m awesome. NO, no, it’s just…I’ve got my priorities. Do I wanna stare at the colors? Do I wanna star at the short weird people? NO!

I wanna make sure Dorothy is safe at all times. We’re in the strange land, meeting strange people, seeing strange things. There could be danger at every turn. I gotta make sure my woman is safe and sound and gawking at whatever she wants to gawk at.

So there you go. It’s about priorities. And breeding. HA!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Toto Does Bingo!

This past Wednesday night, the Ark Theater Company, one of the two theater companies co-producing Say Goodbye Toto, had their annual Drag Queen Bingo fundraiser at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood. For those of you who’ve never been, it’s just like your grandma’s Bingo, though it’s run by the sarcastically hilarious Drag Queen Ms. Bridgette Of Madison County, and Bingo Boy, the creator of it all.

They like to have Celebrity Ballcallers to assist Bridgette, so our very own Renee Scott, who plays Dorothy, and Joe Porter, who plays Toto, gamely dressed up in their costumes and lent a hand, or a paw, as it would be.

Joe forgot to bring his makeup to put on his Toto nose and other markings, so he grabbed a green Bingo dauber, and painted it on that way. It worked surprisingly well.

(Shall we take a moment to admire Toto’s sprightly ears? I made that paper mache headpiece, and attached the ears to it. Lion and Cat also sport the same kind of headpieces, and I made those too, having had no previous paper mache experience. It’s amazing what you can put you mind to and make happen when you have three days until your show opens, ha ha ha.)

Renee and Joe did great, and almost charmed the dress right off of Bridgette (who promptly christened Joe “ToJo.”) Everyone had a lot of fun, we raised money for Ark, and Jake Elsas, who plays the Wizard, ended up winning the grand prize of an Ipod Shuffle. Jake’s been suffering through a sinus infection, and has been told to rest his voice to save it for show nights, so as he won and jumped up to claim his prize, Joe as Toto ran up with him and interpreted his words, which ran something along the lines of “Wow! Thanks! Cool!”

It was awesome.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #16

Hey Toto,

How do you feel about owners that spend tons of money on clothes for dogs? I mean, they're cute but are they really necessary? (Unless you're a sleddog from Alaska). I just find it amusing when owners dress their dogs in jackets, sweaters and booties in Southern California. Why hide their soft & furry coats that nature gave them? Do you have any clothes? Or any must-wear items?


Hi Fur-Is-My-Coat!

I gotta say, I’m right there with you on the whole clothes thing. I think it’s dumb. More than dumb, I think it’s DUMB dumb. Like, DUMB DUMB DUMB dumb.

Whenever you see a dog wearing clothes, what do you notice? How SMALL that dog is. So essentially, the owner is putting clothes on a dog because they think the dog is a baby doll. What’s next, making them drink water from a baby bottle? Putting a diaper on them? Feeding them strained carrots? How hard

It’s just dumb.

Do I have any clothes? Nope,. Fur IS our coat. Why put more on, right?

Do I have any must wear items? Well, ummmmmmm. Okay, FINE. Sometimes, when nobody’s looking, I wear this:

But it itches.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Friday, August 14, 2009

Check Out Our Awesome Review!!

Courtesy of

Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, the Munchkins, and the Wizard himself are back—in Amy Heidish’s charming, delightful, and surprisingly original Say Goodbye, Toto, a Wizard Of Oz not just for the kiddies.

Heidish’s comedy (a co-production of the Ark Theatre Company and Playwrights 6) sticks closely to L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s tale but does so from a fresh new point of view—Toto’s. In Say Goodbye, Toto (a curious title, since not a single character says “Goodbye”), Toto speaks, though unfortunately for the pooch, no one in Kansas can understand him, least of all the person he’s most eager to talk to, his beloved “Babe” aka Dorothy Gale.

Just as Judy Garland did in the MGM movie classic, Say Goodbye, Toto’s Dorothy (Renee Scott) longs for “a whole world out there beyond the farm. And all I see is grey.” Unlike the movie’s Toto, who could only say “Bow wow,” playwright Heidish’s talkative canine (Joseph Porter) informs us from the get-go that he cares not a hoot what’s beyond the farm. “I’m right here,” he tells his uncomprehending mistress. “I’m all you need.”

Within minutes of this declaration, however, Dorothy and Toto are running for the cellar to escape the approaching cyclone and the next thing you know, they’re being greeted by a pair of the nuttiest, quirkiest, cutest Munchkins ever (Anna Quirino Miranda and Jordana Oberman), a sort of green-frocked female version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The two immediately determine that Toto must be a sorcerer, and kowtow before him, smacking their Munchkin heads to the ground in a show of loyalty which prompts Dorothy to wonder if perhaps they don’t have nerve endings in their foreheads. There’s also a cat (Tracy Eliott) in the Marvelous Land Of Oz, who surprisingly can understand whatever Toto says, and who just may be more than she seems.

The Munchkins present Dorothy with a gift, the “Sparkly Shoes” belonging to the late Locasta, the Wicked Witch of the East, whose house Dorothy has fallen upon. (In case you’re wondering why they’re not “Ruby Slippers,” those red-gemmed pumps are the property of MGM, and unlike Baum’s novel, not yet in the public domain.) Meanwhile, Toto has run off and encountered the Witch (Alice Ensor), whose dress keeps coming apart without the brooch stolen by the aforementioned cat, and who wants more than anything to know where to find said Sparkly Shoes.

Any variation of The Wizard Of Oz wouldn’t be complete without the three companions who accompany Dorothy as she follows the Yellow Brick Road, and it is here that Heidish’s tale begins to take flight, for these three fellow travelers are mirror opposites of their L. Frank Baum counterparts. Lion (Andres Ramacho) turns out to be indeed “the bravest in all the land,” Scarecrow (Mike Fallon) the smartest, and Tin Man (Brant Mahnken) the most compassionate. What? A Lion who’s not cowardly, a Scarecrow who actually has a brain, and a Tin Man with a heart? Stick around and you’ll find out why.

Say Goodbye, Toto takes its titular hero (and Dorothy et al) on that well-known journey—across a wide ravine, then a river, and of course, that soporific field of poppies, prompting a hallucinogenic dream sequence. Still, nothing can stop our Yellow Brick Road-followers from going to see the Wizard (Jake Elsas). When they do at last find themselves in his presence, though, they are greeted not by that booming-voiced disembodied head we remember so well from the movie—but by a bear, a duck, and a rabbit—in puppet form one and all, prompting Toto to wisecrack, “There’s a whole farm back there!”

What makes Say Goodbye, Toto much more than just another Wizard Of Oz retread is the way playwright Heidish tweaks L. Frank Baum’s iconic characters just enough to make them her very own. Many laughs come from Dorothy’s inability to understand even the simplest of Toto’s remarks, as when the doggie insists that the Lion bow down to him, and all he gets is a swat on the nose and a “Hush” from Dorothy, who’s only heard barking. There’s also Toto’s comic interplay with his nemesis the Cat. (Toto: You got a crush, I get it. I’m adorable. Cat: Fleabag, I’m trying to help you.) I like the way Heidish maintains Baum’s stilted dialog all the while making it just slightly twisted as well. (Dorothy, waking up from her poppy-induced nap: Oh dear. Could you kindly tell the hammer to stop hitting my head?”) Also, Toto’s relationship with Dorothy will resonate with anyone who’s had mismatched feelings for someone else.

Director Jamie Virostko deserves high marks for bringing Heidish’s script to vivid stage life and guiding her troupe of comedically gifted actors to performance gems. One of Virostko’s inspirations was to use Heidish’s two adorable Munchkin girls to facilitate scene changes, literally becoming the wind that blows our heroes across the ravine, the river that needs to be crossed, and the poppies that put our fearless band to sleep.

Having been part of the Playwrights 6 workshopping of Say Goodbye, Toto, I’m particularly impressed by how absolutely perfectly cast this World Premiere production is, beginning with the phenomenal Joseph Porter as a pugnacious, needy, caring and totally adorable Toto. (Just watch the way he lays on his back, legs extended up, luxuriating in one of Dorothy’s tummy rubs.) A sweet but spunky Scott pays tribute to the movie’s Dorothy, all the while giving this Kansas girl her own particular edge. Ramacho is a hoot as the oh-so-full-of-himself Lion, Fallon has loads of fun with the highly intellectual (yet still distinctively supple) Scarecrow, and Mahnken likewise makes the most of this biggest-hearted Tin Man. Eliott is every bit as purrfectly feline as Porter is ruff-ruff(-and-tumble) canine. As the witch, Ensor is an amusing mixture of imperiousness and frazzle. Elsas may well get the most laughs of anyone (without initially showing his face) manning and voicing three of the funniest puppets seen on an L.A. stage since Avenue Q. Finally, taking quirkiness to new levels, are the splendidly gleeful duo of Miranda and Oberman as the Munchkinettes.

Scenic designer Christina Silvoso has created a gorgeously fantastical set painted in swirls of green (what else?) which serves well as all of the Ozian locales, lit in Technicolor splendor by Jeffrey M. Davis. (If only the two had concocted a way to make the Kansas scenes fit Dorothy’s description, “It’s just so grey here.”) Ryan Lennon’s costumes are clever takeoffs on the tale’s original illustrations, with special kudos due the Lion’s curlicue paper mane and the Munchkin’s full green skirts and horizontally-striped stockings. (Lennon also designed the great puppets.) Christopher Moscatiello’s excellent sound design employs just the right mix of what appears to be original music setting the mood for each scene, and of course the requisite cyclone’s roar.

Like the best Disney animated films, Say Goodbye, Toto is family entertainment which proves equally enjoyable for adults as for kids, with plenty of lines to tickle grownups’ funny bones all the while whizzing past the younger set. Last night’s audience was adults only, and everyone seemed to be having an absolute ball. I certainly did!

Ark Theatre at the Hayworth, 2511Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Through September 19. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 7:00. Reservations: 323 969-1707

--Steven Stanley
August 6, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dorothy's Notes

Our second guest column! Isn't this exciting!?

The lovely Renee Scott, who plays Dorothy, takes the helm:

I’m Renee. I play Dorothy. On the first weekend of shoes, we had a family come see us, dressed up in Dorothy costumes. (Well, dressed in the traditional blue gingham. I am a re-imagined Dorothy, and I actually wear a purple dress.) Grandma, Mom, Son and Daughter. When I asked her, the little girl, Leah, told me her name was Dorothy. She was adorable. I was wondering if we were the first play those kids had ever seen.

My first show was 42nd Street on Broadway, when I was five years old. I am lucky to have grown up in Brooklyn, just a short subway ride away from the best theatre in the country. In New York, they run commercials for all the Broadway shows pretty much non-stop. I became obsessed with the commercial for 42nd Street, which featured the song, “We’re In the Money”. I sang that song all the time – at dinner, walking down the street, on the way to school, even at church under my breath – to anyone who would listen. Eventually, I wore my parents down (I am nothing if not persistent) and my Dad took me to see the show. I was so small I could sit crossed legged in the chair and still have room for my teddy bear to sit next to me. We sat in the fifth row. I still remember so many moments from that show. The costumes, the lights, and especially the curtain rising to the sound of all those tapping feet…

I was hooked. Bitten. In love. Fully.

“Say Goodbye Toto” is my 52nd stage show, (and typing that just made me feel ancient). And I am still deeply in love with the theatre. The lights, the costumes, all of it.

My favorite part of acting in a stage show is the repetition. I like a nice long run. When “Cats” closed on Broadway, there was a cast member who had been there since Day One. She had played something like 4,000 performances as a Cat. That would be me. (Except, please God, let it not actually be IN “Cats”.) I would totally do that, because every day, every show, is different. Yes, it is the same script, and cast members. But the energy is always different. And, more than that, you get to live your favorite parts over and over again. You never get to do that in real life, except in your memory.

Every night that I am onstage with this brilliant cast, I learn something. I find new moments, make new connections. The audience always informs something new. And as actors, we bring with us everything that has happened in our day and in our lives up onstage with us. As we evolve, grow, and live, so do our characters.

We get to live so many different lives, I sometimes wonder, “Who WOULDN’T want to be an actor?”

And I couldn’t help but wonder, as I glanced over at little Leah, sitting crossed legged in her seat, holding her little stuffed Toto, if one day she will look back at our play and realize that’s where it all began for her too.

I can only hope. I think the world needs more actors.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #15

Another one from our Twitter fans! This time from @briendownie

@totothedog - when I watch the Wiz of Oz, everything goes to color in Oz, except you! you're still black! what color are you on the inside?

further question for you @totothedog... did you even notice everything went color in Oz, seeing as dogs are color-blind? am I confusing you?

Hi @briendownie!

Well, the short answer to your question is that I don’t know what color I am on the inside, as I’ve never pulled myself inside out to look. It would hurt, methinks.

I hear I might be red or pinkish on the inside.

As to your further question – allow me to clear up a popular misconception: dogs are not really color blind. Take it away – Wikianswer Man!

Dogs are not color blind - they see color, but their chromatic acuity is significantly less than humans'. This is for two reasons: (1) dogs have far fewer cone cells in their retina (cone cells are responsible for seeing color); and (2) dogs are dichromatic (they see only two primary colors - blue and yellow) whereas humans are trichromatic, meaning we see three primary colors - red, blue, and green.

Humans have 7 times higher proportion of cone cells than dogs, meaning that when dogs do see colors, they are pale or faded. However dogs have a much higher concentration of rod cells, responsible for seeing black-and-white, and also much more sensitive in lower light conditions. For that reason, dogs have much better night vision than people.

So there you go! Yeah, I noticed Oz was colorful when we landed. I can see Dorothy’s dress, and I can see Munchkinland, but I don’t see what the big deal is about Emerald City – it looks pretty bland to me.

And the most important thing? When in the dark, be next to a dog! Obviously.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Monday, July 27, 2009

We’re alive!

We made it through Opening Weekend and all the madness it entailed!

All told, the first week was the roughest on the cast, as they had a dress rehearsal and two preview nights before Opening Night. Never again will they have to do the show that many days in a row (6), and the fact that we were not only still standing by the end, but still had plenty of energy to spare was amazing. I have the most amazing cast in the world, I really do.

We had plenty of people coming to cheer us on the first weekend, and the response has been very gratifying to hear.

And we’re getting plenty of fans, young and old. Some of them even dress up, like this awesome family here. When you show up dressed as Dorothy and carrying Wizard Of Oz themed Beanie Babies, you can bet we’re gonna grab a picture of you, because it’s just too cute for words.

Also too cute for words are the cupcakes we’re selling at the concession counter. Toto head cupcakes. All sorts of yummers, and only $2.00. Considering that Sprinkles cupcakes go for more than that, you can be sure you’re getting a delicious bargain.

Come and see us! We’re running for eight more weeks!

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Opening Night!

So it all comes down to this:

From our beginning table read on June 13th to now. Six weeks of rehearsing, blocking, reblocking, dialogue learning, puzzling over the inner life of Munchkins, learning the proper way to cut and curl long strips of silk.

From dialogue tweaking to Sparkly Shoe spraying to reblocking again because we got the set up, to the delicate art of puppet making (the Rabbit has eyes now! Wheeeeeeee!)

From new director searches, to replacing actors, to rehearsing fights to costume changes to what does a flock of flying monkeys sound like, to a last minute frenzy of baking Opening Night Goodies that kept me up until early this morning.

It's all for this - our Opening Night.

I am absolutely nothing without my awesome cast and crew. And we are nothing without an audience.

Come down to check us out! We're running for nine weeks! Details on the right hand side!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting there...

These are pictures of our incredible set, by our amazing designer Christina Silvoso.

The awesome Shelley Delayne did the hot air balloon.

It's pretty AND versatile. We're all very very excited.

Monday, July 20, 2009

5 Days Before We Open

And it's around this time in the pre-production process that everyone turns into a completely different person.

Amazing to see what effects stress has on a personality. Our director has gotten very funny (she was funny to begin with, but now she's punchy funny and quite witty.)

Our costume designer has gotten very verbal with her thank yous and encouragements, which means a lot when you're lost in the wilderness with a hot glue gun and miles of silk ribbon that you're supposed to transform into a lion's mane. "That looks amazing" she says, and suddenly, all your burnt fingers are worthwhile.

Our Munchkins are so in sync that they're finishing each other sentences when they're not onstage.

And as for me? I'm swearing. A lot. Not AT anyone. Just in general conversation. It's easier to express your thoughts through profanity(like how stupid people are on Wilshire Blvd. during 6pm traffic.) Such a shorthand, when you're working on five and a half hours of sleep every day.

When you're opening five days away, all you see is what's going wrong. Light cues, sound cues, dialogue goofs, our rabbit puppet doesn't have eyes, do we need a makeup person. Intellectually, you know everything will sort itself out. Emotionally, you're not there yet.

Everyone is working their ass off, and we're actually much farther along in terms of cue to cues than many productions are. It's just that we've got so much technical stuff going on that it's hard to see how far we've come, because all I can see is how far we have to go.

It will be fine. Oh yes, it will be.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 14

Dear Toto,

I am a young boy suffering from the onset of early male-pattern baldness. My only friend is my beagle. He's a nice enough dog, I guess, but he seems to have an overly rich fantasy life. There are times I've caught him pretending to be a WWI fighter pilot, a tortured author, even a vulture! Is this behavior normal? (I'd ask my therapist, but her advice often isn't even worth the incredibly inexpensive nickel per session that she charges.)

Sincerely yours,


Hi CB! I gotta ask you, what’s with you humans and your therapists, anyway, huh? Let me see if I understand this: you pay someone to listen to you talk about your problems, and then they tell you what to do? You know, I do that for free. Dorothy tells me all her problems, all her secrets, all her dreams, and I wag my tail and lick her face and it makes her smile, and that’s all FREE. Why would you PAY someone to listen to you when you have me? Well, you don’t have me, you have a delusional beagle. But still. You know what I mean.

As to your question – is your delusional beagle normal? Let me counter with another question – what IS normal?

Dogs don’t understand therapists, and we don’t understand normal. Some of us chase our tail for DAYS. Is that normal? We sleep close to 12 - 14 hours a day, is that normal? We greet you when you come in the room with so much excitement, it’s like we didn’t just see you leave five minutes ago, is that normal? A lot of us like to lick our…well, is that normal?

Your dog has a rich fantasy life. That just means your dog is extremely independent, and doesn’t need you to keep it entertained, which is rare, but normal isn’t part of the equation when you’re talking about dogs. We’re all pretty weird.

Besides, I’ve seen your dog flying his doghouse over the farm once or twice. He’s pretty badass.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Director's Notes

Hey everybody! It's our first guest blog! FINALLY! I'm super super excited. Please welcome our director, Jamie Virostko:

A director is the person responsible for the interpretive aspects of a production; the person who supervises the integration of all the elements such as acting, staging, and lighting, required to realize the writer's conception. That would be my job. That’s me. THE DIRECTOR. Oooooooh.

So how am I going about directing? What am I doing to facilitate the “integration of all the elements?” I spend a lot of time thinking about Munchkins. I spend a lot of time thinking about a dog, a girl, a cat, a witch, a wizard and three mutants...but Munchkins. I meditate on set and costumes and sound and color palettes...Hm...Munchkins. I ponder the logistics of thirteen scenes and ten different locations occupying the same space in quick succession...and I think about Munchkins. They are the key to solving all my problems - the secret ingredient that will facilitate the perfect amalgamation of all the distinct, intense and varied flavors of Oz stew.

I think about enchanted Munchkins becoming flowers and transforming into rivers. I envision wild Munchkins clandestinely tormenting unsuspecting travelers along the Yellow Brick Road. I ponder the uninhibited imagination of Munchkins and whether it can, in fact, reach into other dimensions.

Who are Munchkins really? How do they spend their days? What do they do for fun? Are they each born with a blind obsession with magic or is it due to environmental conditioning?

I consider the mighty Munchkin Army. Is it volunteer or are all Munchkins required to serve? What’s Munchkin boot camp like? How did they drive the Wicked Witch of the West out of the Emerald City?

Munchkins...How can their skills be utilized? Their nature focused? Their power harnessed? Am I tampering with forces I cannot possibly understand? Perhaps. But, I am the Director….Hmmmmm…..Munchkins.

- Jamie Virostko

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #13

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read the following column unless you've seen Marley & Me! Don't do it! Don't!

@totothedog Question- why did I hate everything about Marley & Me but still cried like a baby @ the end? - @napiersmooth

Hi @napiersmooth! Our first twitter question! How exciting! You all know you can follow me on my twitter account, which is . A fascinating challenge to be funny in 140 characters or less. Also an interesting challenge if you have paws, such as myself.

BUT! The question is about Marley & Me. I actually watched this with Dorothy a few weeks ago. I totally agree with @napiersmooth, as I hated everything about Marley & Me, especially that evil pernicious threat called Eric Dane. He’s so smarmy! So cocky! Toss him off a cliff ASAP, because I can’t stand it when Dorothy sighs every time he comes on screen. What’s the big deal? He’s got a salt and pepper beard and ripped abs, so WHAT.

Did I cry like a baby at the end, as @napiersmooth did? Well, Dorothy cried, and that upset me. I hate anything that makes my woman cry. Especially blatantly manipulative cinematic techniques.

Because show me a movie where a dog dies at the end and you DON’T cry. Old Yeller? Fox And The Hound? Cujo? You’re a cold hearted freakazoid if you’re not bawling like a baby at the end of those movies. Because dead dogs = copious tears. Filmmakers know this, and they milk it for all its worth.

Don’t be ashamed of crying at the end of Marley & Me, @napiersmooth. Because nobody’s a cold hearted freakazoid. Unless you’re a cat.

Now, if only Eric Dane had died at the end instead of Marley. That would’ve been AWESOME.

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, June 21, 2009


We finally found our second Munchkin, and she’s a girl! That’s right, it’s a two women Munchkin scenario. Sometimes, you have to think outside the box.

So here is our official cast for Say Goodbye Toto:

Toto - Joseph Porter
Dorothy - Renee Scott
Scarecrow - Mike Fallon
Tin Man - Grant Mahnken
Lion - Andres Ramacho
Cat - Tracy Eliott
Witch - Margaret McCarley
Wizard - Jake Elsas
Munchkins - Anna Quirino Miranda and Jordana Oberman

I’m very excited that the cast is locked and rehearsals have begun. Here’s Joe as Toto, taking his research seriously as he observes Renee’s dog Dilly, who was at a rehearsal last week. It’s not just throwing Dilly’s toy for her to play fetch, it’s watching how she runs, how her legs work, how her ears flop, how her head moves all over when you’re shaking the toy in your hand.

The first order of business on the production expense side was getting kneepads for Joe, since he’ll be spending roughly half of his time on his knees. Which sounds far worse than it’s meant to be, heh.

But at last we’re up and running. Or is it up and trotting? Moving forward! That’s what we’re doing, ha ha ha.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 12

Ask Toto #12

Dear Toto,

I'm not normally the type to write in to columns like this, but things have been changing in my life and I fear I'm losing control of my situation. My neighbor, Bianca , said you gave her some great advice so I'm hoping you can help me too.

I have been living with the same two humans for over seven years now. At first it was great. She would take me on long runs where I could show off my athletic prowess and he would snuggle with me at night. I was always the top spoon in the drawer... if you know what I mean.

About four years ago, though, things started to change. Mommy (as I've grown accustomed to calling her) and I stopped running as often. I tried encouraging her by getting excited whenever she opened the drawer where her running clothes were, but it was to no avail. I also stopped getting as many "you're so cute" comments. Finally, one horrible Christmas, Mommy and Daddy (I can hardly even call them that anymore) put a stupid Santa hat on my head just so they could take a picture of me. I was so embarrassed! I did my best to be patient with them, but apparently it wasn't enough. The next year they brought home another dog to live with us. How disgusting! What's worse, they had the nerve to call her my sister!

Still, I was the patient one. I endured it when they started bringing her along on runs and went gaga over her athletic prowess. (So what if she can climb trees!) They think she's soooo cute even though she's not that smart. (She watches other animals on TV and thinks they're real. I've never been fooled by that. I realize that they aren't real. They're just actors... playing parts.)

Despite all this, I have taken the high road. I even look out for her. When they pulled the Santa-hat thing on her, I was all over it. I tried to save her reputation by pulling it off her head, but she just walked away from me. She even seemed to like the hat! What's up with that?

I finally hit my limit the other night when I came in to go to bed and found that the humans were snuggling with her... making her the top spoon in the drawer... if you know what I mean. That was it. I sat down with an harrumph and refused to get in bed. My "father figure" patted the bed behind him as if I was supposed to just curl up by myself over there. I responded by trotting around the bed and sitting down with another harrumph.

Finally, I was speaking my mind. And I won! My little strike forced him to roll over and snuggle with me. It was so liberating!

And yet, I feel like maybe I've gone too far. Is this the kind of behavior that we should be promoting? Do I want other little doggies to see me act this way? I don't want to turn into one of those controlling, manipulative little bitches that get there way by pouting all the time.

What do you think? Am I doing the right thing?

Glendale, CA

Hi Ebony! Ah yes, it’s all fun and games and Top Spoons In The Drawer until they bring a new dog home. Sharing is so difficult, isn’t it? It’s why I’m soooooooooo glad I’m such an amazing awesome dog that I’m all Dorothy needs.

Here’s the thing about life that’s hard for us dogs to understand: Life changes. It what!? I KNOW! It’s crazy, isn’t it! Us dogs, we’re pretty much content to do the same things over and over again. We have no concept of time. Of course we don’t, we don’t wear watches, we don’t know what a clock is. We know when it’s time for a run when she opens the drawer where her running clothes are. We know it’s time for a run when they grab the leash. We know when it’s time to be fed when our tummy growls. We know it’s time to go outside and do our thing when…well, you know.

Humans are different. They get bored. They what!? I KNOW! What’s up with that!? So humans like to shake things up by training for half marathons, changing the furniture in the room, new paint on the walls, or bringing other dogs home, everything that throws our world into chaos because it’s not the same.

P.S., a special aside to all humans out there. DO NOT PUT A SANTA HAT ON YOUR DOG! Don’t do it. Just…don’t. You think it looks cute, IT’S NOT! WE HATE IT! IT SUCKS! IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE! No, we’re not gonna stand still for longer than three seconds. IF WE WERE SUPPOSED TO WEAR SANTA HATS ON OUR HEADS, GOD WOULD’VE MADE US THAT WAY! Did he? Did God create dogs with Santa hats already on their heads? NO! SO DON’T PUT THEM ON THERE!

Anyhow, Ebony, the point is that life changes. There’s very little we dogs can do about it, except remind our owners every single day how amazing and awesome we are (more so than our sisters), so they can’t possibly ignore us.

I also recommend you persuade your owners to buy a California King mattress. That way, there’s plenty of room for you all to be Top Spoon.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not Your Typical Munchkin

So we’re ALMOST done with auditions. This is the longest it’s ever taken me to nail down a cast for any of my projects. A lot of people I wanted to call in can’t do the play because they’re traveling over the summer, others can’t take the time off from work. One actor turned down the role we cast him in, that was fun. Not.

I try to stay calm by reminding myself You want the drama in the beginning, not at the end. The beginning, not the end.

But we’re almost there, we’re just missing one Munchkin. Not surprisingly, our calls to Come Audition For A Munchkin Role! Have gone largely ignored by the greater Los Angeles Acting Population.

The problem is that these aren’t your average Munchkins. This isn’t a By The Letter retelling of The Wizard Of Oz, where the Munchkins show up in the first twenty minutes, sing a Lollypop Guild song, and disappear for the rest of the play.

There’s a line that the Wizard says in the second act that’s supposed to sum up anything you’d need to know about Munchkins: “Come ON, you know Munchkins! Completely capricious, they’ll worship anything new!”

We’ve taken to joking behind the scenes at auditions, “C’mon, they’re Munchkins!” almost in a “Forget it, Jake, It’s Chinatown” kind of way.

One of the themes behind Say Goodbye Toto is “What is the true meaning of love?” Because most of the characters have wrong ideas about what love is.

The Munchkins think love is utter devotion in the form of blind worship. And they think anything new is worthy of their praise. So whenever anything new shows up in Oz – a mild mannered guy in a hot air balloon, a house falling from the sky, a dog – they instantly pledge their utmost devotion to it.

But since they’re two of them (or there will be, after this last round of auditions) they’ve got a ragingly competitive streak to them. They want to be the BEST worshipper, which results in hopefully amusing ways as they constantly seek to outworship the other one.

But we’re not stopping there. Jamie, our fabulous director, has tons of ideas about how the Munchkins will be creating the environment for the other scenes. In the first act alone, we move from a ravine to a river to a poppy field. A standard set in a 45 seat theater isn’t gonna work for us.

But Oz is a fantastical place, and we’re going to have a fantastical set, most likely supplied through movement and improv, courtesy of our Munchkins.

It’s going to be wonderfully imaginative, fun, and not what people would expect a Munchkin to do.

Don’t underestimate these Munchkins. They’re not gonna be what you think.

And there will be no singing anywhere. ☺

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 11

So, Toto, what were you doing when Dorothy passed out on the bed while you were in the twister?

Tish Dragonette Hargens

Hi Tish!

Excellent question! First, let’s consider the context – Here we are, running across the house, trying to follow Aunt Em to the cellar. Can I just point out that Aunt Em went down to the cellar FIRST!? Did she herd us down there in front of her? Did she try to make sure we were okay? Nope, she went down first. What can we learn from this? Aunt Em is not someone you want to have seated next to you on a crashing airplane. Aunt Em is out for herself and nobody else. Heh.

Secondly, Dorothy did not “pass out” or “get hit on the head from a flimsy window frame” as a certain movie would have you believe. The house was rocking from the winds very gently, so it basically rocked Dorothy to sleep, much like a cruise ship trying to outrun a hurricane in the Caribbean, ho ho ho.

But I couldn’t sleep. Nope, not me. HELLO! FLYING HOUSE ANYONE!? Who could sleep at a time like that, right?

There wasn’t anything I could do to stop the house from rocking and rolling, and I was too wired to sleep, so I did what any normal dog would do, and I practiced my salsa steps. (Nobody likes to salsa dance in Kansas.) I wanna be as good as these guys, see?

I think I could at least take Rilley, on, see?

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Monday, May 25, 2009


We're having auditions tomorrow, and the thought fills me with something halfway between guilt and joy.

I know plenty of people who get off on the power of being on the decision side of the table when it comes to auditions. That's never been me, and luckily it's not any of the producers or director of Say Goodbye Toto with me.

When I was growing up, I did my fair share of community theater. Children's Theater, Musicals, things like Annie, West Side Story, Oliver. I wasn't bad, but I wasn't a star either. I was usually a chorus member, someone in the back who could stay on key and not fall off the stage.

In those auditions, I watched the people on the decision side of the table, and they seemed to be taking themselves SO seriously. Like this was a life or death decision here, just WHO exactly was going to be Conseula!? We HAVE to cast a Mr. Bumble! You're not good enough to be Pepper the Orphan!

And I remember very well the needy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I AM good enough to be your Pepper the Orphan! I AM! Pick meeeeeeeeeeeee!

So now, I feel a bit uncomfortable on the decision side of the table. I don't wanna look like I'm taking myself too seriously. This isn't rocket science here. We're trying to put on a play! In the barn in the backyard (not really.) We wanna make people laugh!

I love auditions when people come in and make me laugh. I wrote the words, but if you can elevate it to the next level and make me laugh, I love you forever.

But over everything else, this is the important next step to getting this thing up and running. I don't know what to expect tomorrow. I don't know who to expect, really. But I know that when we're cast, it'll feel that much more real.

- Amy Heidish

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Have A Director! Again!

Okay! Back on track with an AWESOME director!

She's Jamie Virostko, who has directed plenty of great theater in Los Angeles. I just had my first meeting with her where we talked all about characters, set designs, audition sides, the importance of creating movement to define your environment, and Munchkins!

It's a bit of a sentimental reunion for us. Jamie played the role of Cinderella in my last full length play, The Big Ever After, which ran in 2005. She was exquisitely lovely in the role, and has a great frame of reference for my sense of humor and my writing.

I'm very stoked that she's at the helm, and before long, she'll be contributing pieces to this blog as well.

It's so nice to breathe again. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 10

Ask Toto A Question #10

Ave, gentleman!

When you feel cold and warm at the same time,
when you read over the same line for the tenth time,
when your heart and thoughts somehow appear to rhyme,
and when a simple name conquers your whole mind,
then you are in deep trouble my friend... you are in what they call, "love".

I am longing for my one true love to join me in my journey; he would be easy
going, genuine, independent and emotionally available and able to communicate well. Things don’t have to be perfect all the time, as long as there is trust and honesty. It is important to me that he is very passionate and romantic. I also need to feel a connection; that magical spark or chemistry that holds It all together. I would like to meet a kind, faithful, generous, sincere and reliable man. I would like to have at my side trustworthy and constant friend. I would like to create a strong family with our children and to be happy for the rest of our life.

Feel free to get in touch with me http://(

Sincerely yourth

Hi Vally!

I gotta tell you, I’m a little confused. First of all, you’re not addressing me by my name, Toto, or by my many nicknames, His Supreme Fuzziness, Mr. Adorable, or King Oh My Gosh I Can’t Stand How Cute You Are.

I read the poem, but when I feel cold and warm at the same time, it usually means I’m sick. Dorothy can tell when my nose is dry and my eyes are runny and my ears are droopy that I’m not doing great.

I am definitely easy going, genuine, independent and emotionally stunted NO! available, I mean. Do I communicate well? Well, um, er, I guess so. Maybe.

Do I think I could feel a connection, magical spark or chemistry with you? You, who didn’t run your email through spellcheck or grammarcheck, and who addressed this email to four other people in addition to me?

Mmmm, no. I don’t wanna create a strong family with you (I can’t have kids, nothing down there.) I’m flattered, kinda, but Dorothy is the only one for me.

Hey, Dorothy, what’s a SPAM folder anyway, and why was this one in there?

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Monday, May 11, 2009

Well, I Thought I Had A Director

My director, Kelly Ann Ford, contacted me over the weekend to regretfully tell me she couldn’t direct Say Goodbye Toto after all. She’s involved with a film that suddenly got a greenlight that would conflict right around the time we’re supposed to open.

It’s more wearying than anything else, as it means we’ve got additional work to do to secure a new director. And as I’ve said from the very beginning, I’d rather have the drama at the beginning, then after we open. Because here, we still have time to fix things. Not a lot of time, as we have auditions scheduled to go on May 26th. But some time is better than no time.

Every Los Angeles theater faces this issue – previously committed people dropping out to take a film or TV opportunity. There’s unfortunately nothing you can do about it. I’m not one to hold grudges, as I think Kelly is an amazing talent and hope to work with her in the future, and there’s way too many drama queens in the L.A. Theater Landscape for me to want to add my name to their list. Things always work themselves out in one way or another.

But I do hate being in the Land of Unknown Answers. Hopefully our time here will be short.

- Amy Heidish

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 9

Hi Toto,

What do Munchkins taste like?



Hi Ryan!

Well, this is a gimme. Everyone knows Munchkins taste like chicken. If I could carry around some curry powder, ground ginger, and garam marsala, it’d taste like chicken from Bombay! But that’s a little awkward for someone who has paws.

If only the Munchkins would roll around in a puddle of salt before I chomped them. Then life would be just heavenly, and Munchkins would be quite tasty.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

But Will It Look Good On A Water Bowl?

Last week, I had my first conversation with the marketing gal in charge of Say Goodbye Toto. They would love to see the script so they can start working on the graphic design for the postcard. I would love for them to see the script as well, but it’s not ready to send out yet. We’ll see about an extended synopsis. (I have trouble figuring out how long “extended” is. Cue all sorts of naughty jokes.)

A lot of my writing experience is for film/TV, and that’s how I approach marketing plays as well. There’s several thousand postcards littering hipster coffeehouses, sushi places, and other theater lobbies promoting plays around town, but you can’t figure out what the play’s about. They go for artistic, or pretentious, or emphasizing the names of the cast, or whatever, but seemingly ignore the most basic thing of all – what’s the play about? Why do I want to see this play if I don’t know anyone connected to it?

We’ve got an obvious edge – everyone knows Wizard of Oz. And we’ve got an interesting quirk – told from Toto’s point of view. We’ve even got a killer title – Say Goodbye, Toto.

Now we need a tagline. Something catchy, something cute, something that pithily encapsulates what the show’s about, yet is relatable outside the show.

My last full length play was in 2005. It was called The Big Ever After, and it crossed fairy tales with pulp novels. The tagline was “It always feels good to be bad.” Which was exactly what the play was about – why does it feel good to go against your chosen grain, and what does that mean for your life in general?

That was actually a line in play. So the first choice would be to find a snappy line of dialogue from Say Goodbye Toto. And since it was so easy last time, it shouldn’t be a problem this time, right?


I think one of the major things is that nobody can hear Toto. So even though he talks, nobody responds (at least, not in obvious ways.)

I used to pitch the play with this line:


But that’s a little wordy.

You could go obvious, like


But that’s a little generic.

In the play, Toto loves Tummy Rubs. So you could do something like


But that requires insider knowledge of the play.

There’s a point where Toto tells Dorothy, “I know more than you think I do.” So I was messing with this line:


Which might could work. I could see it on a T-shirt. Or a coffee mug. Or a water bowl. We’re going to try and do merchandise with this one, depending on costs.

Hmmmm. It might be one of those eleventh hour Eureka moments. We’ll see.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 8

Dear Toto,

My dog wants to know if it's necessary for every dog to have a Facebook page in this day and age. What if he doesn't want to be found by the mutts he went to obedience school with? Is it rude for him to reject a friend request from the stuck-up Pekingese that he went out with just once?

- Michelle

Hi Michelle!

Yeah, I’m totally with your dog on that one, I don’t understand this fascination you humans have with the whole Facebook thing. Or the computer in general. I mean, why are you staring at the screen? You could be playing with me! I’m in 3-D, even! Your dog will lick your forehead! A keyboard can’t do that!

Look, all dogs have to do to get to know each other is sniff their butts. Tells us EVERYTHING we need to know. One whiff of the batootie, and that dog is etched in my brain. I don’t need a friend request to sniff a butt. I don’t need to take a What Superhero Are You quiz to sniff a butt. I don’t need to comment on your photo, I can sniff your butt!

So what’s the point of Facebook?

(and yes, you can totally reject a friend request from a Pekingese. Because even I don’t have to sniff that butt to know that one’s a stuck-up bitch.)

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Monday, April 13, 2009


So I’m deep in the middle of the rewrite, and as usual when I’m rewriting a project, I’m plagued by the chorus of voices that pound my skull with a sledgehammer saying you’re making it worse, you’re making it worse.

When we did a staged reading of draft 2 last November, it went over really well with the crowd. In fact, if you were going solely by crowd reaction, you’d think we have a huge hit on our hands. But while crowd reaction is important, so is story logic, and theme, and character arcs and stuff.

For example, Glinda’s character didn’t do much but show up and do her best Basil Exposition routine. So I had to figure out what to do with her character.

And that brings up what might be the main question as I write and rewrite. It’s not just how can I make Glinda’s character better, or how can I make Scarecrow and Tin Man and Lion better. It’s how can I make them DIFFERENT and better and still make sense within the story.

We all know what they were in the MGM movie. Some of us have even read the original book, and they were pretty much the same. A lot of us have read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, or seen the musical (I read the book, didn’t see the musical), and know how he did a masterful job of reworking the characters to tell an amazing story of tolerance, politics, and what good and evil really are. Maguire is a super smartypants, and there’s no way I can ever be in the same room as him and his brilliance. I’m a populist; all I really wanna do is entertain people and make ‘em laugh.

In draft 2, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion actually do have knowledge, a heart, and courage, and they’re very aware that they do. But they pretend that they don’t in order to stay close to Dorothy and a have a reason to accompany her to Emerald City. Toto sees through their ruse, but can’t get Dorothy to see it. Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion recognize Toto as a threat, and subsequently try to kill him on the way to Emerald City.

It certainly seemed like a funny idea to try out (as both the audience and Toto see Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion’s attempts to disguise their gifts in amusing ways.) But it got to be slightly tedious, because all they did was try to flirt with Dorothy and kill Toto. And it got confusing later when the Wizard gave them their “gifts” that they already had.

So I’m trying a different tactic, which may or may not work. I’m workshopping the 1st 25 pages of the new draft through my writer’s group next Monday. Crossing fingers that I’m making it better, not making it worse.

- Amy Heidish

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 7

Ask Toto #7


I've done some research and see that Terry the dog, who enjoyed an eight year acting career spanning ten movies, played you in MGM's 1939 production of The Wizard of Oz. Knowing that Terry trained for two whole weeks at Judy Garland's home for the part, how well do you feel one of Hollywood's most famous canines portrayed you?

Grant in Mid-Wilshire

Hi Grant!

Well, I’m not one to slam a fellow canine, Terry did the best she could. That’s right, Terry is a bitch. What? I’m still not slamming her, she’s a female dog, that’s what they’re called! Calm down, people, sheesh.

Anyhow, Terry was fine, though I can’t help but note a distinct lack of focus in certain pivotal scenes. Check out Terry in the classic scene from Over The Rainbow.
Dorothy! Make the thing happen! The motion capture thing! I can’t work the keyboard.

Where’s Terry looking? Is it at her mistress, who’s trilling so beautifully? No! It’s her trainer just off camera. If you watch this scene like I do, keeping your eye on Terry the whole time (why would you look anywhere else?), you’ll notice that Terry is NOT connecting with Judy Garland. In fact, she’s so out of character, she offers her paw a whole moment ahead of time, at the “That’s wheeeeerrrreeee yoooooooooou’ll fiiiiiiiiiinnnnddddd meeeeeeee.” when she’s supposed to wait until the “Why, then, oh, why can’t Iiiiiiiiiiii” Part.

See, if I had played myself, you couldn’t have gotten me to take my eyes off of Judy Garland, not for a second. Not because Judy was inherently beautiful in her own right, but because she’s playing Dorothy, and there’s no person in the whole wide world that I like to gaze at more. I hardly ever take my eyes off her, that’s how much I love her.

Oh sure, they had offered the part to me, but since Dorothy wasn’t going to play herself, and they were telling the story all wrong anyway, I didn’t wanna be a part of it. Was I jealous at the final product? No, not really. Well, okay, yes, the first time we watched it I howled and howled at dismay at how they got every last thing wrong.

But then I realized how much this version, wrong as it is, has brought happiness to so many people, young and old, and who am I to stand in the way of that? Plus we’re gonna tell the story the way it’s supposed to be told, so the truth IS coming out finally. You just gotta wait for your moment. For stories to be told the right way, and for food under the table, ha ha ha.

I will say, however that Terry really did great in the scene where she barks madly at the cat in the balloon scene. That’s completely the fury I have when I see any cat. Cats are just wrong all over.

Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's An Umbrella, Not A Broom

Because everyone instantly thinks of the MGM movie when you say “Wizard of Oz” I had told myself that I had to be careful with how I was constructing the story for Say Goodbye Toto. The safest thing to do would be to stick solely to the book. If an element is in the movie, and not in the book, then I can’t use it. Which is why there will be no ruby slippers running around Say Goodbye Toto. The shoes are silver in the book. Not sure if they’ll be silver in the play, but they’re definitely not going to be red.

This link has been my most valuable resource. Those are W.W. Denslow’s original illustrations going along with the text. As you can see, the Wicked Witch is a very strange looking woman, but what is she carrying? An umbrella. Not a broom. In fact, she never carries a broom, or flies on a broom, even though she’s entitled to do so because she’s a witch, and that’s what witches do, right?

The broom was added for the movie. I suppose very technically, I could get away with having a broom for the Wicked Witch in Say Goodbye Toto, as long as she didn’t skywrite Surrender Dorothy (which would be difficult to do in a theater anyway.)

But it’s a little weird for a Wicked Witch to be carrying around an umbrella, right? Until you realize the genius of W.W. Denslow’s illustrations. Because we all know what happens to the Wicked Witch, right? She gets melted from what? A bucket of water. So it’s absolutely logical that the witch would carry around an umbrella, not a broom (even if it doesn’t save her in the end.)

The umbrella is never mentioned in the text, W.W. Denslow thought it up all on his own. These little discoveries make the whole researching process worthwhile.

- Amy Heidish

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ask Toto A Question # 6

Dear Toto,

I have been a fan of THE WIZARD OF OZ since I was first old enough to watch movies! It all looks so real and magical, there's something I've always wanted to ask you.

Gay marriage. Your thoughts?

Bill in Studio City

Hi Bill!

Okay, first of all, I have to say that marriage is a concept I don’t understand. I understand Owner/Pet. I understand Human/Dog. But what is marriage? I mean, I’ve been with Dorothy ever since I was a pup. I am never never never leaving her side. Why doesn’t that make us married? I wear a type of ring called a collar, though she doesn’t wear one back (that’d be cool if she did, though.)

But why doesn’t that make us married? We love each other, we’re going to be together forever, isn’t that what marriage is? Loving and staying with the same person for the rest of your life, forsaking all others, la la laaaaaaa.

Now gay marriage. Well, aren’t ALL marriages supposed to be gay? Laughing, singing, dancing, tra la la la? Marriages are happy, loving, fun, and a gay old time.

So even if I don’t understand marriage, I think gay marriage is practically a requirement. Because if you’re not happy and gay in your marriage, what’s the point? Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yes, there was a slight interruption

Hi everyone,

Many apologies for not posting as I should have been. My first produced feature film script: Two Million Stupid Women made its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California two weeks ago, and it took up a large part of my time. Let's see if I can embed the trailer here:

As if you couldn't tell from the title or trailer, the film's a comedy (weird as it is, some people couldn't tell. Like anyone would make a film called Two Million Stupid Women that was LITERALLY about Two Million Stupid Women? Who would do that? Honestly? Please remove the stick from your ass and go get a sense of humor) You can find out more information about it on our website:

And here's an interview we did to support the film. Let's see if this one turns out:

So I promise to get back to a regular posting schedule now. Toto has been very pouty at the lack of attention, even though I left him with my roommates who fed him fine. Keep the questions coming. Mr. Narcissist loves 'em, ha ha ha.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #5

Ask Toto # 5

Dear Toto,

Ever bite a munchkin?


Hi HB!

Oh, I bite Munchkins all the time. I LOOOOOOOVE biting Munchkins, they’re so easy to bite, them being so close to the ground and all. They’ve got thick ankles, which are the BEST kind to wrap a jaw around.

Of course, Dorothy hates it when I do, so I have to wait until she’s not looking, and then it’s not a bite so much as it is a soft kronche , which is kinda demeaning, so I wait until she’s not looking and then I bite down harder, and a Munchkin squeal is SO rewarding, heh heh heh.

And this is as good of a time as any to talk about self-control. I don’t have it. Dogs are not born with it. Therefore, when you humans do the Hand On Your Hips and Head Shaking move and say things like “Why can’t you just LEARN not to shred the couch!” you’re not getting it. I can’t NOT shred the couch. I HAVE to shred the couch. I HAVE to chase the cat. I HAVE to bite the Munchkin. Dogs don’t have self-control, they only have instincts, and my instincts tell me that Munchkin ankle is YUMMERS, and, and, and I HAVE TO BITE IT.

I’m trying to get better at it. I know that I get slapped if I bite the Munchkins. I know that No Biting Munchkin Ankle means No Slap. I just can’t help myself. Because there’s no self-control. It can be freeing in a way. You should try it sometime. Thanks for the question!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Out on vacation...

I should come up with something more snazzy like, "Gone fishin'" except Toto doesn't fish, and "Running around the plains chasing the chickens" sounds like more work than anything else.

All to say is that Toto and myself will be back on February 9th or so, check back then.


Amy Heidish

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #4

Dear ToTo,

How does it make you feel when people call you 'too too' with the oooo sound? Does it make you feel like dancing the nutcracker?! Just curious!

There's no place like home,

Hi Joooooooooles!

The good thing about my name is that it’s kinda hard to pronounce wrong. Unless Aunt Em’s drinking the hard stuff again. Then it’s “Too Too” all over the place. And she makes me dance. You humans love to dance with dogs, don’t ya? The whole picking up the front paws, and having us teeter dangerously on our paws walking backwards. And you think it’s so cute, oooh oooh look at that, we’re DANCING! Of course we’re dancing! You won’t let go of our front feet! We got nowhere else to go!

Trust me, I’m a heckuva dancer when all four paws are on the ground, okay? Have you seen the end credits to Slumdog Millionaire? I can TOTALLY do that dance, okay? Dorothy wears the tutu and dances to the Sugarplum Fairy, but I can Jai Ho like nobody’s business, ha ha ha. Thanks!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Have A Director!

In my many years of writing and producing theater in Los Angeles, I have seen a lot of things go wrong. I’ve had actors drop out, directors drop out, props break onstage, costume nightmares, last minute switch ups in venues, cranky theater owners, directors and stage managers screaming at each other. I’ve had to let actors go, sometimes early in the process, once two days before opening night (that wasn’t fun.)

I’m not the only one this happens too, by the way. Plenty of my playwright/producer friends have had the exact same issues. I haven’t produced anywhere except Los Angeles, so I’m not sure if these mishaps happen everywhere, or if L.A. is just special in the way that 99 seat theater is considered the ugly redheaded stepchild of TV and film work. Actors follow the money, I suppose I can’t blame them. Respect for the craft might be nice, but whatever.

It’s gotten to the point where I fully expect something to go wrong, and mentally prep myself for something to go wrong, and all I ask is that the bumps in the road come at the beginning, as opposed to the end. I’m a Give Me The Bad News First kind of gal, ‘cause then the Good News leaves me on an up note.

But this time, the Good News has come first, and I’m choosing to take it as a sign that there will be more good news than bad.

And that is, I have a director! The lovely Kelly Ann Ford has agreed to hop aboard the Toto Train to Merriment. The Ark Theatee Company suggested her and she liked the script, and let the fun begin!

She’s been directing for quite awhile on the Los Angeles theater scene, she’s award winning! She’s big stuff, and we had our first meeting on Thursday. We got along well, and she even said she was prepared to direct the draft I gave her. Thank God that’s not the case, as I can do much much better than the current draft. As soon as I can find the time to write, heh.

But yay! Someone else is on board! I told her she’ll have to contribute a column soon. Hope that doesn’t scare her off.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ask Toto A Question #3

hey toto -

after judy garland's death in 1969, you toured briefly with pink floyd. were you involved on the studio sessions for "dark side of the moon," released 3 years later?

if so, did you ask the band to time the music as an alternative score to "wizard of oz?" and if so, was that your homage to judy garland?

SR, West Hollywood

Ah yes, I do get this question occasionally.

Dorothy still has no idea what people are talking about when it comes up, because I can’t get her to start the CD at the right point of the DVD (she can never anticipate the MGM Lion’s third roar, and we ALL know that’s the one for the superior synching alignment experience.)

Let me put it this way, SR. Do you own an Ipod or perhaps an Itouch? Ever used the Shuffle feature on it? Do you ever think to yourself, “Wow, that’s amazing, all my favorite songs are cued up one, right after another? How does that Ipod or Itouch know what my favorite music is?”

Fact of the matter is, it doesn’t, okay? But you’ve loaded it with mostly your favorite songs (or deleted the ones you like less) so is it any wonder that what happens during the shuffle is a shuffle of your favorite songs?

Coincidence is a powerful thing, but only gets you so far. “Any Color You Like” during the Dorothy/ Scarecrow “If I Only Had A Brain” scene? When “Brain Damage” would’ve been a much better choice, and only one track listing away? Starts to fall apart on examination, doesn’t it. And as much as I would like to take credit for influencing Pink Floyd in a maybe tribute to Ms. Garland, they were always bigger Monty Python fans than they were of Wizard of Oz.

Frankly, the experience of watching Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of The Moon gets old after 15 minutes or so. That’s when people at most of the parties that I’ve been at head out onto the patio to fire up a (A WHAT, Toto? D) up the campfire? So we can roast S’mores?

It’s okay, though, SR. I don’t mind answering that question again. Reminds me of the good old days, of early quadraphonic sound systems, bad 70s hair, and mind’mores. Thanks for asking!

Ask Toto A Question runs every other week until the questions run out. Don’t let that happen! Send Toto your queries at