Following the yellow brick road

Spencer Shreeve

the-wizard-of-oz-dvd-cover-63For 75 years, “The Wizard of Oz” has led millions down the yellow brick road. After 6 Oscar nominations, and named the “most viewed motion picture on television,” the legacy of Oz has never wavered since 1939.


After “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” won an Academy Award for Best Song, thousands of young girls have done their own rendition on talent shows or pageant stages.  Just like “Let It Go” with Frozen, a single song can set a character into motion. Dressing up as Dorothy and holding a stuffed dog is seen every Halloween.  Luckily with the Dorothy costuming, no silver paint can cause allergic reactions as it did for Bunny Ebsen, also known as Tin Man.


Besides iconic characters like Dorothy and Glinda, the fantasy animals in Oz also lead children to a new world of imagination. With making a suit of real lion’s fur, the Cowardly Lion is easily a memorable character. But what about the other furry cast mates?


Dorothy’s little black dog, Toto, was in each scene, and received a dominant paycheck over the munchkins by $125 a week. Some animals received much lower pay, like the brightly colored horses seen around the Land of Oz. These horses were not really colored, however. They were simply covered in Jell-O crystals used to reflect colorful light to the cameras.


Many have attempted spin offs on the Oz-ian legacy, but the most successful by far is that of “Wicked”. The Broadway play has run for over 10 years, taking the story the Wicked Witch of the West to a new level. Twisting the Wizard into a manipulative fake, and the Wicked Witch into a misunderstood young girl named Elphaba, the musical creates an alternate side on the classic story. With big box office hits, the play has produced big stars such as Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. “Defying Gravity” has taken over the musical theatre charts, keeping the pattern of Oz on the charts.


With success in theatre productions of Oz, many are turning to small screen in the future. Networks are taking on the classic character, but in their own ways. CBS is in the works of producing “Dorothy” a real life spin on the characters, with Dorothy as a New York doctor, while Lifetime is taking a darker spin on the story by following the “Red Brick Road “to a world of warriors and dragons. NBC is creating an “Emerald City” following the path laid out by the Oz books.


Though no shows have made their premiere yet, the anticipation of the shows has hit media, keeping one thought going. What is next for the Wonderful Wizard of Oz?