Even though we still have over a year’s wait until the release of “Dorothy Of Oz,” there has been substantial media coverage surrounding the project. I blame Comic Con, and Lea Michele. That being said, although there is a plethora of media coverage surrounding “Dorothy Of Oz,” the film itself is still somewhat of a mystery.
Sure, we know the basic plot and have some character sketches to shed some light on what we are preparing for, but the music that is supposedly going to tantalize our senses is being kept very much on the down low. They are letting us in on the “style” of music, but very few tidbits otherwise. That is why I was very pleased to see some featurettes surface regarding the music, the story and. of course, Dorothy.
Let’s face it, Lea Michele is the prime driving force behind this project. Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Patrick Stewart and Dan Aykroyd — those are the guys you would think were behind the reins, but Lea Michele of “Glee” has taken the driver’s seat. It comes as really no surprise, as she IS voicing the coveted role of Dorothy. Plus, she has a set of pipes that few can compete with.
And who can think of one Ms. Lea Michele without thinking of one Idina Menzel, who played Michele’s mother on “Glee”? And who then can think of Idina Menzel without thinking of “Wicked?” “Oz” is keeping it all in the family as it were. Kristin Chenoweth was rumored to have a role, but when that rumor was squashed, we all came to find out that Megan Hilty was voicing the part of the China Princess. Not shockingly, both Chenoweth and Hilty played Glinda on Broadway. Lea talks about “Oz” fans for this generation and, of course, does not leave out that one little Broadway show that could. “What ‘Wicked’ did was bring “Wizard of Oz” to this generation. It kept true to its “Wizard of Oz” roots, and I think that’s what ‘Dorothy of Oz’ does as well. Its holding onto the original movie and respecting it and honoring it making it now for the next generation.
As for the music, Michele has thus far recorded a couple of songs for the film, which she describes as still holding onto the charm of the original, containing the same wholesomeness and warmth. According to Lea, there are important messages for the youngsters out there intertwined in the music. But what is the music going to be like? After hearing from composer Jim Dooley, lyricist Mike Himelstein, music supervisor Vicki Hiatt and choreographer Tyce Diorio, I think the best way to describe what the music will be is “character infused.”
Ballads, orchestra pieces and circus-type music all offer different moods and “Dorothy of Oz” promises to be an eclectic platter of different styles, tailored specifically for each actor and the role they encompass. Lyricist Tift Merritt wrote a love song which has since become Dorothy’s song. We are also promised the the songs shall occur organically throughout the film, unlike your more show tune-type stuff out there. It won’t be stop the story, sing, continue the story. The music in any musical can make or break a film or show, but in this case, the music is even more vital in its execution because not only is this an animated musical, Disney being the master in this area, but it’s a sequel to one of the most beloved musicals of all time. On a very random note regarding the music featurette, was that Megan Mullally rehearsing some dance moves for her butter commercial?
Music being the dominant factor in any musical, we must be reminded that the music must guide us through a story. Have you ever wondered what happened after Dorothy returned to Kansas? Even if you didn’t so much as wonder what became of Dorothy and the farm, I know many folks have pondered the possibilities for the eccentric friends she left in Oz, with their newly bestowed gifts. “Dorothy of Oz” is going to tell us. I have read almost every book in the “Oz” treasury, so I kind of know, but for those who have not followed the literary brick road, this is all new territory.
One of the most memorable moments in all of cinematic history is the moment when Dorothy’s house is finally released from the hands of the twister and plops down in the middle of Munchkin Land. Dorothy steps out of her black and white door and the entire film becomes a Technicolor rainbow. There is absolutely no way of competing with that moment. What director Dan St. Pierre is not attempting to do is to imitate or outshine that moment. Rather, he is taking a different, more advanced visual route that can leave an impact. Not by capturing something in a single second, but rather by incorporating the latest stereoscopic 3D technology to bring Oz to a current dimension.
Being that this sequel is an animated feature also plays a huge role in its creation and versatility. In the animated world, landscapes, characters and even gravity pay no heed. The artists and writers can go absolutely anywhere with the story without having to build sets, block actors, location scout, hire stunt doubles, or be constrained by time limits. New settings are going to be featured, different counties and areas of Oz that we have never seen before.
The collaborative efforts that are clearly happening on production and the willingness of all involved to bring a quality story to today’s audience, speaks for itself. “Dorothy of Oz” has some mighty shoes to fill, and after a peek and a listen to some of the men and women behind the curtain, I whole-heartedly believe people are going to pay attention.
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