Charles City Press, 6-28-18
I’ll be in the play this weekend.
It’s my kind of role — short but memorable — but don’t blink, you might miss me.
I’m the title character in the Stony Point Players’ production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Yes, that means I’m the Wizard himself.
Full disclosure: I’m pretty sure I got the role because I’m sleeping with the director. Nothing nefarious, mind you — she is my wife, after all.
If you remember the movie, the Wizard is the guy who everyone is so excited to meet. The main characters travel through Hades in a yellow brick bucket — and, among other hazards — they overcome fields of pretty poison, crabby talking apple trees, nasty flying monkeys and homicidal witches just to meet the Wizard.
Then, when they finally get there, the Wizard isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.
The characters discover that the Great Oz is not great at all, and he’s certainly no Wizard. He’s just a regular guy, hiding his true self behind a curtain. He’s a con-man. He has no magical powers. He doesn’t even really have a scary voice.
The Wizard is just a big, phony disappointment, who lets all the other characters down.
But that’s kind of the point. Life is about the journey, not the destination.
In their knight’s quest to meet the Wizard, the other characters are forced to overcome major obstacles. In doing so, they are able to find, inside themselves, all the things they thought they were going to get from the Wizard.
What they thought they lacked, they had inside themselves all along. It took the Wizard quest to bring it out.
In the end, even the Wizard himself comes out from his hiding place and faces the truth. He doesn’t have to hide behind the curtain anymore.
There are a lot of fun things along the way. Cute Munchkins, catchy songs, magic spells and a tornado, to name a few examples. And there are other lessons in the story — good stuff — about the importance of friendship, about maturity, about facing your fears, about kindness and about finding your own path in life.
These are the reasons this story has been a beloved tale for almost 80 years now.
Well, that and the fact that the show contains one of the greatest songs ever composed, “Over the Rainbow.”
I hope I do a good job. I only get about five minutes of stage time, and I’m just one of over 100 people involved in this production, so I can’t screw up too much all by myself.
But I also don’t want to be like the Wizard, and let all my comrades down.
There’s a little Wizard in all of us, I think. We all hide behind a curtain sometimes, and pray we won’t be exposed for the phonies we are. Come to think of it, like the characters in the play, at times we all behave as if we have no brains, no heart, no courage. We need to remember to not do that.
Sometimes, we go to great pains to find happiness elsewhere, when all along it was right there at home.
We learned all these things when we were kids, but a lot of us have forgotten them.
I’m proud to be the “humbug” wizard in this staged story this weekend. And I’m proud to be on the stage with a whole lot of people who have been working much harder than I have to put this thing on. They’re your friends and neighbors, and I think you’re going to like what they do.
And the Munchkins — I know you’re going to love the Munchkins.
So I hope you’ll come to the theatre this weekend and enjoy yourself. Laugh a little, cry a little, and sing along. Give these home town folks some cheers and applause for the journey they’ve been on.
You’ll have fun. You might even learn a lesson or two.
But don’t worry, that’s not required.