Yes, we live in San Francisco. We know the not-so-secret meaning of that phrase. But we are Friends of Dorothy in the very literal sense. Since I bought the newly remastered DVD of this great classic, my goddaughter, Amelia May, and I watch it straight through at least once a week (skipping only the scary Flying Monkey scene). Sometimes we top up the experience with a quick viewing of our favorite parts — the Munchkins, the Horse of a Different Color and any scene with Glinda. So when we found out the San Francisco Symphony was doing a Wizard of Oz night, we decided it was a must.
Some will say three years old is too young to appreciate the symphony, but when Glinda, Munchkins and a costume contest are involved, we knew we had to chance it. Still, Amelia is going through a stage that her mother, Susi, terms: “Being professionally Three.” So we knew we needed to plan for every eventuality, have multiple Plan Bs and various escape routes. Central to our plan was getting one of the side boxes. My preferred seating at the symphony, boxes include a private anteway/hallway that leads to an enclosed seating area for only six. With Amelia, myself and Amelia’s mother, Susi, attending, that meant we had the potential of only annoying three other people in the event of a preschooler meltdown. Andy and I always make a yearly contribution to the symphony. So we decided, if Amelia couldn’t make it all the way through, we’d just leave and consider that our tickets had been our “donation”. It was a good attitude. We almost got our money’s worth just from the promenade before the show.
It was a wonderful mixed crowd, including a lot of kids and families, but also a lot of Friends of Dorothy. Many of them wore costumes. Amelia, of course, was Dorothy. Susi wore a white blouse and a pink tulle skirt, so she was sort of Glinda’s Executive Assistant. I wore black and Amelia said I was the bad witch’s friend. We promenaded the main hallways of Davies Symphony Hall, high-fiving the many Dorothies we encountered, and adroitly steering Amelia away from the one guy who showed up in a much too authentic Flying Monkey costume.
The costume contest involved modeling individually for a panel of judges and giving your name so that they could contact you in the next week. Of course, I may be a bit biased, but I’m sure Amelia will take it. Every bit of the outfit, down to the ruby slippers was hand-made by Susi. And despite the presence of some parents who clearly tried too hard and turned out “JonBenet Dorothies”, I think the judges will opt for a more natural look.
We were only aiming to make it to the intermission, but we had the best of all possible luck. Amelia was transfixed. And our box had only one other patron. A lovely man — possibly a Friend of Dorothy — beautifully turned out in a velvet tux and three elegant scarves of tulle and sequins. When the Good Witch first appeared, Amelia in her excitement muscled up beside this man’s chair and said, “Glinda is sooooooo beautiful” in a very loud stage whisper. Our box mate leaned over and said, “She’s my favorite, too.”
Intermission arrived and Amelia was in no way ready to leave. There was another promenade to be made.
We were also reminded that San Francisco is very tolerant. As Susi and I walked around with Amelia, strangers who spoke to us seemed to assume we were the nuclear family in a “Look at the cute little Dorothy and her two Moms” sort of way.
All in all, it was a great evening and we lasted until the very very end. With only one quick exit during the Flying Monkey scene.
I can remember seeing one of the first televised showings of The Wizard of Oz, and I was definitely pretty young. I hid out in the kitchen every time the Wicked Witch showed up – she scared the tar outta me. However, as I recall, I still watched from a distance. The flying monkeys were scary, but cool – hey, they had neat little uniforms and they flew! Awesome!
It’s amazing watching the Wizard from an adult perspective to see all the influences that went into the costumes. The monkeys seem to have some Kabuki elements and more than a little Hanuman the Indian monkey god about them. And the Wicked Witch’s guards seem like inspired by 18th century Turkish or Russian soldiers.
My younger brother peeked out from behind the corner of a stuffed chair to watch Wizard of Oz on tv, thumb covered by ever present diaper/tshirt. Of course we didn’t have a color television so the whole Oz conversion had to be explained.
Great introduction to the symphony for Miss Amelia. And for all their scariness it was totally awesome that those monkeys could fly.
What a lovely way to introduce a young child to orchestral music. My guess this is something she will always remember: a delightful evening with her “two mommies.” My parents started taking me to the Symphony when I was about 4, and I’ve been a faithful subscriber ever since. And, it’s all the more important in this age of limited arts education in the schools. Keep up the good work, godmommy!
Our Symphony is also trying innovative ways to encourage young people to attend, but as yet, no “Wizard.” Hopefully it will fly up north soon on those stylin’ ruby slippers.
I think I’ll go listen to the late Eva Cassidy’s besutiful rendition of “Over the Rainbow” : one of the loveliest songs ever written.
Wonderful story and the “two moms” like cracked me up. I’ve never seen the Wizard of Oz because the first minute of it scares me to death.