I’m not sure how they took out all the music and left in all the other sounds in the 1939 classic…
And I’m not sure how the conductor hit every cue to the second, but the KC Symphony – performing at the Kauffman Center – made sure that I had the best time I ever spent watching The Wizard of Oz on the screen.
Walking into the Kauffman always impresses me.
The four story glass walls in the foyer give a great night view of the Crossroads District, Crown Center and Liberty Memorial. As someone who grew up on Sci-Fi, the long views on a clear night feel like being in a space station. The white curved walls of the twin auditoriums add to that “clean room,” laboratory effect that I expect from the future.
Then as we entered the wood-lined sound chamber of Helzberg Hall, we saw the sepia tone title screen towering above the symphony seating. From the future, it was an artistic window into the past. The usual build-up of players and sound ended with the entrance of the conductor.
Next came an unusual interruption from Butch Rigby of Screenland. Which would have been fine if it had been like two minutes shorter without the dozen or so extra mentions of Screenland.
However the minute the symphony played a live version of the MGM intro music, we all knew this was going to be a special roar of the lion.
Conductor Aram Demirjian never faltered.
The symphony played every song and every soundscape. It made every original voice fresh with the exception of The Munchkins. Even the symphony could not save that aggravating performance.
It was interesting to look back to 1939. Every loose end was resolved. Every plot twist foreshadowed. Everything we needed to be happy was there all of the time.
And as we left the symphonic time machine and exited back into the future, I wanted to turn to my right hand man and say, “Make it so Number One.”