Wizard of Oz with Boston Pops at Tanglewood
Article by Dave Read
Billed as Oz with Orchestra, the Tanglewood presentation of a newly restored print of The Wizard of Oz, vocals and dialogue intact and paired with the Boston Pops’ performance of the original orchestration, made for a thoroughly entertaining experience. Way more than a mere nostalgia kick, it commanded your attention, leaving no room for daydreaming. Reflections on childhood viewings had to be postponed until afterwards, when an especially animated and chatty crowd strolled back to the parking lots around 11 PM.
Like many in the audience tonight, my experience with The Wizard of Oz dates back to the days of black and white television and the annual broadcasts from 1956 onward. I dug this movie from the get-go, even as an under-age iconoclast disapproving anything my sisters liked. And tonight I responded with the unbridled joy of an over-aged optimist!
Conductor Keith Lockart’s established versatility was on full display as he used a pair of digital devices to lead the Boston Pops in their supporting role. It was a seamless collaboration between the orchestra and the movie projected on a large screen overhead. They didn’t intrude, but their playing was a welcome embellishment throughout.
Two especially noteworthy elements were the color and the choreography. It was a riot of color, which I’d describe as psychedelic if it weren’t for how sharply defined every fanciful object and background was. And the choreography was a revelation. What I would’ve called clowning around when I saw it as a kid tonight looked like deceptively artful dancing. The scene where Dorothy encounters the Scarecrow may as well be called a pas de deux. Ray Bolger had a genius that made stumbling look poetic.
True enough There’s no place like home – but neither is there anyplace quite like Tanglewood, where fondly recalled experiences from childhood can be reprinted in memory in the most delightful Technicolor fashion.