As recent as four months ago, if you would have told me that I’d be spending a Friday night at a church production of The Wizard of Oz, I would have suggested that you go have your head examined because in a million years I wouldn’t subject myself to such torture. Famous last words.
You see, I don’t like The Wizard of Oz. I have never liked The Wizard of Oz. I don’t necessarily have a good reason for not liking The Wizard of Oz, I just don’t like The Wizard of Oz. When pressed for a reason, my usual reply is that I find the Munchkins creepy, the acting overdone, the sets fakey, and the music irritating.
And there might be more to it than just that. I spent a year of college living in Germany. During that time I traveled around as much of Europe as I could. When you’re a student traveling abroad you meet a lot of people. In school, on trains, in museums, at touristy sites. The first thing travelers always ask each other is, “Where are you from?” If I met a European, Australian, New Zealander, Asian, that question was easy to answer. The United States. Usually the end of the story. Meeting a fellow American, however was an entirely different manner. You have to nail down exactly where you are from. I usually said Kansas City because no one knows where Russell, Kansas is. The mere mention of the word “Kansas” inevitably triggered the same responses in at least six of ten encounters.
“Did you bring Toto?”
“Are you following the yellow brick road?”
It got to the point where I started telling people I was from Denver or St. Louis just to avoid having to fake laugh at the same lame joke I’d heard a thousand times before. It wasn’t funny the first time, the second time, the twentieth time. It will never be funny. People don’t understand this. My own husband is one of those people.
When I was on Jeopardy, to my dismay, Alex Trebek asked me a question about The Wizard of Oz during the contestant interview portion of the show. I made a semi-disparaging remark about it, at which point he pointed out that the movie was filmed in the studio just next door to where we were taping.
When The Wizard of Oz shows up on cable a couple of times a year, and the kids want to watch it, I just try to be out of the room as much as possible. Until this most recent Christmas and Alex discovered it. Alex fell for the movie. Hard. He wanted to watch it over and over. He knows all of the songs by heart, and when he sings them he’s ridiculously cute. He adores Dorothy, gets mad at the witch, wants to be friends with the scarecrow. Justin likes it too and I must admit I’m smitten with his version of If I Only Had a Heart.
So when I saw that Family of Christ Lutheran Church, which is just a mile or so from my house, was putting on The Wizard of Oz as their annual all-church musical, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make Alex happy. So Justin, Alex, and I spent the evening at the “theatre” tonight. The church group actually did a very nice job of it. Alex and Justin were both riveted, neither of them made a fuss, and were completely engaged during the entire two and a half hour long production. Alex was not a fan of the wicked witch, who he said was too loud. And he didn’t like the Wizard’s eyes, which were moving parts of a set.
I think my sister played Dorothy in high school when they staged the show. I didn’t even go see her in it. Of course I lived in Minnesota at the time, but still. So love trumps hate and I sucked it up, and went so little Alex could see the “real” Dorothy. And I’d do it again and again.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011