I have written before about my love of the movie The Wizard of Oz. The magical show celebrates its 70th anniversary next month and I guarantee you I have seen the movie at least that many times. I am also a fan of its prequel, Wicked, which I have seen several times on Broadway and plan to see again in Nashville in September. A little obsessive-compulsive? Probably. But isn't that the first step? Recognizing you have a problem?

When I was younger and the entire gamut of television channels numbered, well, three, my parents did their best to keep me from finding out that The Wizard of Oz was making its annual television appearance because for days afterwards, that is all I talked about, sang or acted out. My acting would also include my rather reluctant brothers, sister and family dog (who may have been more eager than my siblings) to be the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Toto. I, of course, since it was my show, got to play Dorothy, even though my sister is, by far, the better vocalist. But again, since I was the producer and director, I cast myself in the lead role.

A few times I was able to involve our neighbors. One could be Oz while someone else could be the Good Witch, Bad Witch and the flying monkeys. Funny thing, too, back then I really wanted to play Dorothy in a live production (now keep in mind my vocal ability would have kept me out of this role); now, if I were an actress, and after seeing Wicked on Broadway, I would prefer to play the Wicked Witch, or Elphaba, her given name. And there are days when Michael, I'm sure, thinks that playing the Wicked Witch wouldn't be much of a stretch.

Anyway, I can practically do the entire dialogue for the movie. I loved, and still do all these years later, the story, the fantasy, the good triumphing over evil and the odd friends, the flying monkeys, the musical score. I mean, really, what is not to like?

I also think The Wizard of Oz is why I enjoy live theater so much. It was the first play I ever saw produced locally by the Cumberland County Playhouse. I can still recall how excited I was when the Wicked Witch ran down the aisle and I was sitting near the end and could almost reach out and touch her.

Those of you who haven't seen the Broadway musical Wicked are really, in my opinion, missing something. It chronicles the friendship between Elphaba (Wicked Witch) and Glinda (Good Witch) who met while roommates in college, and the ensuing drama that unfolds prior to Dorothy dropping into the Land of Oz. It is one of the smartest productions I have ever seen and included my favorite Broadway music with tunes like "For Good" and "Defying Gravity," which Elphaba belts out just as she flies on stage.

I also collect The Wizard of Oz and Wicked memorabilia. I have coffee cups, ornaments, figurines, books, magnets, posters and my very favorite shirt which reads, "Don't make me break out my flying monkeys." I even wrote a paper during my master's studies on The Wizard of Oz!

One time when Michael and I were in Las Vegas, I actually met the grandson of The Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum during a meet and greet at the MGM Grand hotel. At the time, meeting him was as exciting as it would have been to meet Mel Gibson!

Anyway, The Wizard of Oz turns 70 on Aug. 25. Guess what I will be doing that night? You are right — celebrating its anniversary with another viewing. Oh, and by the way, my very favorite part of the entire movie? When Dorothy realizes she had the power to go home all along!


Speaking of anniversaries, Cumberland County's own Homesteads Tower is five years older than The Wizard of Oz. It will celebrate its 75th anniversary this Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with food, entertainment and come very special guests and dignitaries.


After you are finished with the Homesteads Tower, you may want to drive back into town for the monthly Classic Car Cruise-In. It is set to get under way late Saturday afternoon on Main Street. Once again, participants will find great food vendors, awesome entertainment and, of course, some really cool old cars and trucks. If you need more information about this event, contact Linda Hassler at 200-8097 or Anna Norris at 248-5710.