Saturday, January 05, 2013

Time to Revisit Oz

B and I were just talking (on the drive down to Zach's Shack to get a Chicago dog) for some reason about the musical Wicked. I posed the question of whether or not it had any merit.  Is the music good? Is the book clever? Is the plot compelling? Are there any funny songs? I read the book upon which the musical is  (loosely, I assume) based, but my favorite part of the book was the map of Oz and the surrounding hinterlands;  I remember very little of the book except that I didn't think it was very good.

As for the musical, I obviously haven't seen it, but it's been around for some time now on permanent tour, it seems and is probably due to swing through Portland at any moment. Should I go see it? Turns out that the book is written by the person who created My So-Called Life, which seems promising, but still...the poster featuring that green-faced witch turn me off.

B and I started wondering if that whole green face thing was MGM's invention, "revised" in the same way the silver slippers were turned into ruby slippers that would have more pizazz in technicolor. Did L. Frank Baum specify that the witch in The Wizard of Oz had a green complexion. Somehow I doubt it. Now I want to find out by rereading the original books.

As a kid I never read the actual Oz books. Instead I read these "junior classic" kid versions of the books that had very arresting illustrations of Wheelmen, Tik-Tok, the Gump, Ozma of Oz, Jack Pumpkinhead, and those knitting needle girls (does anyone even know what I'm taking about?), but the books were heavily abridged and I'm sure the text was dumbed down.  I'd like to read the original books now just to compare all the spin-offs that have arisen from the original and to see how far off the mark they are. I'd also like to revisit my childhood and see if I could find those watered down kid versions I read and that we checked out over and over again from the local library--if only to look at the illustrations, which were, truly, outstanding. I think this is one from the series I read, published sometime in the 1960s. Seems about right.   

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