So I may have missed the singalong “Sound of Music” in town at Christmas, but I had a second chance of sorts — the “Singalong Wizard of Oz” came to the Michigan Theater this afternoon. The tickets were outrageous ($20 for adults, a chest-clutching $15 for kids), but it was a benefit for the city’s summer festival, so.
But it didn’t disappoint. The digitally restored print was almost too vivid — did the witch’s guards (the o-ee-o guys) always have green faces? — and I’m happy to say it passed my test for a movie I’ve seen over and over, i.e., it revealed new details about itself. I lost myself in the details of the Munchkin costumes, in Judy Garland’s charming impersonation of a young girl, in Bert Lahr’s cowardly lion. I never noticed how physical that performance was, how Lahr’s vaudeville grace comes through in every cower and tremble.
The singalong part was fun, too. Many Friends of Dorothy in the audience, two directly behind us. “Sing your song, Dorothy,” one caroled as Ms. Gale warmed up for her big number. They knew all the big lines, too. (My own favorite: “What a world, what a world.”) There was a costume contest, of course. The big winner wore a scarecrow outfit with a truly creepy-looking flying monkey sewed to his back.
But the best moment, for me anyway, came when Miss Gulch came riding onto the screen on her bicycle, and my very own daughter added her voice to the chorus of boos: “You stink!”