Dr. John Newman will perform his solo play, THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, at the Salt Lake City Main Library, 220 E 400 S, on Monday, September 11 at 7p in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium, just off the atrium. This free public performance runs approximately 75 minutes.


The main character in the play is L. Frank Baum, best known as the author of The Wizard of Oz and 13 other Oz books. The play is set on New Year’s Eve the stage of the Hudson Theatre as one of Baum’s popular theatrical productions has been abruptly cancelled because of its excessive costs. The “Royal Historian of Oz” offers the expectant audience his own story of how he “found his way to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Before finding his calling as a writer of children’s stories, Baum struggled to make his living as an actor, director, store-owner, baseball team secretary, small-town newspaper editor, reporter, and traveling salesman. In the play, L. Frank Baum tells how each of his professions developed his abilities as a storyteller and how he transformed his dreams and nightmares into his best known story. His life intersects with American notables including author Charles Dickens, inventor Thomas Edison, and his mother-in-law, suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage.

While the play is G-rated and features a famous children’s book author, it is aimed at adult audiences, though all ages are welcome to attend. Children as young as ten have been engaged by the play; younger children might be bored by it.

The play will also have public performances at the Provo Library, Monday, October 9 at 7p and the Orem Library, Monday October 23 at 7p. It will be performed on Saturday, September 23 at 2p at the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City. Tickets for all shows at United Solo are $35 plus fees and can be obtained by following this link. In buying tickets on line, note that the ticketing site will list the time (Sept 23 @ 2p) but not the title; this is only show at United Solo scheduled in that timeslot.


Dr. Newman developed the play during a residency at the Open Eye Theater in upstate New York in October 2016, with the premiere production under the direction of Dr. Tania Myren. He has since performed the play in Syracuse, New York and Coronado, California; places associated with L Frank Baum’s life and writing. Newman hopes to perform the play in other places associated with Baum, including Aberdeen, South Dakota; Chicago, Illinois; and Holland, Michigan.

John Newman earned his PhD in Educational Theater at New York University, with concentrations in theater for young audiences and playwriting. He has been a professor of theatre at Utah Valley University and Director of the Noorda Theatre Center for Children and Youth since 2010, after teaching and directing theatre for eighteen years at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. As a playwright, Newman has created stage adaptations of novels for Newbery medalists including Avi, Paul Fleischman, Richard Peck, and Jean Lee Latham.

For questions or for more information, email john.newman@uvu.edu