I was watching my daughter’s rehearsal of The Wizard of Oz last night at the The Children’s Theatre here in Dover, and (dork that I am) I seriously started to cry right along with Dorothy when she was trapped in the witch’s castle and wishing, oh wishing, for home. Don’t get me wrong—the teenager playing Dorothy is very good, but thinking back about it now, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t her acting that got me going.
The truth is, I am not a fan of The Wizard of Oz film. When I was a kid, I thought it was the creepiest thing I had ever seen (the creepiest, that is, next to all those previews of 1970’s Stephen King horror adaptations; prom queen Carrie, drenched in blood—yeah, that’s what your scaredy cat seven-year-old wants to see right before she goes to bed). I’d try to watch the pre-VCR/DVD/DVR annual showing of Wizard of Oz on TV, but try as I might, I’d barely get through that scene in the forest where the witch is on the rooftop cackling her head off; I don’t know about the scarecrow, but she sure scared the stuffing out of me. Once a year I’d give it a try, I’d get to that scene, and I wouldn’t sleep for a week.
I’m not going to tell my daughter that, though. She’s a flying monkey in this children’s production, which would give me the creeps if she weren’t so darn cute. Thankfully, my son pointed out to me that the flying monkeys aren’t really bad; they just work for whoever will pay them, and if the wicked witch is their gravy train then so be it.
I know I’m in the minority here on the Oz front, but in my book, tornadoes, kidnapping, death threats, melting flesh, and mercenary monkeys do not an endearing family classic make. So if you happen to come to The Children’s Theatre production (10/24, 10/25 and 11/1), just do me this one favor: pay no attention to the Mom whimpering behind the curtain.