– By Josh Plock
In America the journey to adulthood is not complete without a viewing of the classic film The Wizard of Oz. Sadly, few people have had the joy of witnessing this cinematic treasure on the big screen as originally intended. To remedy this, the Orpheum started a tradition of including The Wizard of Oz in the Orion Summer Movie Series lineup. This tradition continued last night with a sing-along presentation, where audience participation was not simply permitted but rather encouraged.
The celebration to get the audience in the mood for their journey to the Emerald City began in the lobby, before the film started. Children added their own bricks to a yellow brick road designed to raise awareness for the Orpheum’s Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education Brick Campaign. For the adults in attendance the bartender was whipping up a specialty cocktail for the evening, appropriately named the Yellow Brick Road.
Once the film rolled the real magic of the evening began, because comparing a home television viewing of The Wizard of Oz to a screening at the Orpheum is like comparing a Little League baseball venue to Fenway Park. True, everyone has heard the famous tune “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but few can claim the pleasure of having heard it played on one of the few Wurlitzers still in operation. The Orpheum presented the film in the highest resolution possible, truly giving the audience a visual feast as they entered the fantastical realm of Oz. The crowd immersed itself in the sing-along experience, backing up Judy Garland as she belted out all of the film’s iconic songs. And their interaction with the screen wasn’t limited to the music: movie-goers let go a chorus of boos and hisses whenever the Wicked Witch of the West and her army of Flying Monkeys appeared, and applause erupted many times for the heroes, with the biggest cheers being saved for the film’s pluckiest hero, Toto.
It is good to see that this Memphis tradition is still going strong at the Orpheum and if this past showing is anything to go on, it shows no sign of slowing down.
Missed all the fun last night? Not to worry – catch tonight’s film, Airplane! Doors open at 6pm. Arrive early for drink specials and pre-movie activities in the lobby, plus a paper airplane contest and your chance to win fun prizes. Check out The Orpheum’s site for more info and tickets.