In this popular Broadway musical based on Gregory Maguire’s bestselling novel (a kind of “prequel” to The Wizard of Oz), we learn how Elphaba, a sensitive and misunderstood green-skinned college student in the land of Oz, eventually came to be known as the infamous Wicked Witch of the West.
This Broadway musical spectacle is especially loved by tweens, who can relate to its tale of a different young woman struggling to fit in, but audiences of all ages appreciate the show’s themes about prejudice and friendship, as well as its pop-infused score by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) featuring songs such as the catchy “Popular” and the soaring “Defying Gravity”. If you’re thinking of bringing your pre-tweens along to the theater, bear in mind that, as in The Wizard of Oz itself, there are some scary scenes in this story.
Some movies become more beloved and iconic as the years pass (and no, we don’t mean “Ishtar.”) “The Wizard of Oz” falls squarely into that category, however, and this year, the film celebrates its 70th anniversary. Events have already been celebrated throughout the year, but New York is joining in the fun next week with a concert and showing of the film in Central Park.
The concert and screening will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30 pm in Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. (Don’t follow the yellow brick road, but do enter the park at 69th Street and 5th Avenue; seating is first come, first served.)
Singer Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) and “Dancing with the Stars”’ Julianne Hough will be on hand to serenade spectators with modern (no, we don’t really know what that means) versions of the classic Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg songs from the movie. A restored, high-definition version of the film will roll on a giant screen after the concert ends, presented by Netflix and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
(FYI, a special 2-disc collector’s edition of the film will be released on Blu-ray DVD on Sept. 29 as well; and Netflix is also offering free online viewing of the film on October 3.)
In addition, the movie will be screened again this Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of this year’s New York Film Festival.
Flying monkeys and ruby slippers forever!
The City Center Encores! Summer Stars production of The Wiz, starring R&B artist Ashanti, ends its limited run at City Center today. Directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (both of In the Heights), the production also starred LaChanze and Orlando Jones. The Wiz is a soulful, modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz, which originally played Broadway in 1974 and won several Tonys. The book is by William F. Brown (based on the L. Frank Baum story), and music and lyrics are by Charlie Smalls.