Monday, March 21, 2011
Off to Oz
Oz was the first realm of legend that ignited my passion - when I was a kid, the movie came on TV once a year, and that date was looked forward to by all of us with the same excitement and anticipation as any other holiday. It's something entirely lost on children today - if you want to watch the movie, it's there on the shelf. And no matter what they're watching on any given night, there are so many channel choices that only a small subset of friends will have watched the same thing.
That probably sounds odd - but we were totally united on Oz Day by our shared viewing of the same movie.
Still very young, I discovered the book - and from there, the books. There was the thrill of finding out that the movie only covered a portion of the story... and then all those sequels! It was a matter of some years for me to carefully hoard allowance money to buy one hardcover book in the Oz series as often as I could... and later, when I was needing to cull childhood things in preparation for leaving my parent's home, they were the only things I regret giving up. What on earth was I thinking? Not much, other then that childish assumption that if you love something as a child, it must be put behind you as an adult.
The day you realise this is not true... that's when you truly become a grown up. And sometimes, as they knew in Oz... it's too late at that point. I could probably re-collect that set of books in some version or another (I believe the ones I bought have been out print for many years now) but it wouldn't be the same.
Even so.. it's possible to read many of Baum's Oz books online now, as they've entered the public domain. If for some reason you've never discovered Oz beyond MGM's vision, do check them out. Wonderful World, indeed!
Now, there were a few reasons why this wasn't posted on time for the Oz Celebration, but one of them, oddly enough, is that I was attending Deanna's spring play, entitled, no kidding... Oz. They'd done a straight up version of The Wizard of Oz before Christmas as a children's play. This version was for thespian competition - it is a much more adult variation, and they won regionals with it and are now going onto State.
It was an interesting version - a girl named Beth is mourning the loss of her sister, who died in a car accident, and she blames herself.. She falls asleep, and is woken up by a tornado apparently hitting the house and then she's visited by a crew of bustling people ("Hair" and "Wardrobe" and "Props") who do a quicko presto changeover so that she looks like Dorothy and then she's in Oz, insisting she's NOT Dorothy and she doesn't belong in the movie.
Inevitably, of course, she has to figure out how to get to the wizard - in this case hoping the wizard can make her life as it was before the car accident. She can't take the Yellow Brick Road.. in a really hilarious scene, we learn that the Road was sold off to China, but she comes across Dorothy's companions anyway and they all sort of try to make it to the Emerald City. I say sort of because these three are quite a bit more dysfunctional than their movie counterparts. The Cowardly Lion is scared of everything and extremely paranoid (Ahh! What's that big blue thing overhead? SKY??! Is it trying to kill me??). The Scarecrow is stuuuuupid. And proud of it. VERY proud of it, with a big dumb grin and a wink. The Tinman... well, without a heart, he's mean and as mouthy as House.
And then there is the Witch - who is looking for that girl, Dorothy because someone is going to pay for killing her sister.. but she comes along to see the wizard too, because she likes Beth and this band of misfits just fine. They become such good friends, in fact, that when she learns it was the house Beth was in that landed on her sister, she realizes it was no one's fault - Beth wasn't steering the house..
...and of course you can see how this is the same answer Beth needs regarding her own sister... blame is pointless, and she's not wicked anymore than the witch is. They're both simply mourning for their lost sister.
It was such a joy to watch because most of it was funny and then at the end, wham. Haul out the tissues.