After over seven decades the 1939 timeless classic The Wizard of Oz is still being celebrated for its renowned story. This weekend to honor the Oscar nominated picture, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is performing Harold Arlen’s full score to the film while it plays along a massive movie screen.
Last night, the film graced the movie screen in Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center. To start the evening, there was dancing and costume contest fun. They opened the show with having the symphony play ‘Happy Birthday’ with the entire audience to New Jersey native and former Jersey Governor, Brendan Byrne. The former Governor was celebrating his 90th birthday with his wife, Ruthi. Also in attendance sitting with Byrne, was another former New Jersey Governor, James McGreevey.
The film was projected above the orchestra stage on a large film screen that audiences in the third tier can still see perfectly. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) was so magnificent; they brought Arlen’s music to life. Having seen the film thousands of times, there was not a single note misplaced; no one in the audience would have been able to tell that there was a live-score performance. From the classic Over the Rainbow to the music when just the witch appears on screen, everything was flawless. The music fit and flowed beautifully with the actors in the film, and the volume was just right that not a single comedic gesture or line the cowardly lion had, was missed. Every famous quote filled the theater and the audience reacted as if it was the first time hearing, "There's no place like home." After 75 years children still adore the vibrant Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and of course the admirable heroine Dorothy. There were laughs and major applause throughout this magical night, to commemorate one of Hollywood's finest films.
This was an experience of a lifetime and hopefully the NJSO will accompany more classic films on the big screen after the success of one of the most watched films of all time.
Also, if interested in staying in the loop with the incredibly talented NJSO, check out their calendar of events coming up this summer here.