Oz With Orchestra at Ravinia Review – A Magical Night

The weather was perfect on the Saturday night, my husband and headed off to Ravinia to see “Oz with Orchestra”.  We have seen this movie a few times over many years but never like that evening.  It was magical.  The audience was excited, people were in costume, 102.3 XLC , the evening’s media sponsor, was giving away prizes and there was a general party-like atmosphere with lots and lots of children. I was delighted to attend a Ravinia movie night, something I have wanted to do but just never did.

Entering and enthusiastic

Spinning for a prize

Waiting to spin for prizes


There was a celebratory feeling as people enjoyed eating in many places.


Many choices at the Ravinia Market

Enjoying the patio outside the market- a gorgeous night

Dressed like Dorothy


When the program began, the audience was captivated by what they saw and heard. The restored version of The Wizard of Oz, was remarkable. A special note at the beginning dedicated this to loyal fans and those who are “young at heart”.  Shown on the large screen, it was enveloping. I found myself viewing this movie on several levels.  One remained the child’s delight at the color and special effects and the story.  Then there was the adult who was amazed at the complexity of movie, the sets, the huge cast, the special effects and the music that is iconic and instantly recognizable.  And there was the addition of the Chicago Philharmonic, enriching visual experience.


Before it began, Photo:Leon Keer

I can’t imagine the response of the many young people in the audience.  I had to keep reminding myself that the characters in the production were actual people and not computer generated.   


The color was absolutely remarkable and in “An in-depth look at the restoration of the Wizard of Oz Before and After in High Def Digest” one can see the before and after.  The clarity and brightness made this even evening more remarkable.


The songs, immediately recognizable, have stood the test of time. Harold Arlen (music) and E.Y.Harburg (lyrics) were hired to write the music for The Wizard of Oz” and given two months to complete the musical score. Over the Rainbow, which was removed from the movie three times because the music line was difficult and it was too sophisticated in contrast the other songs, won its way back into the movie and into the Academy Award in 1939 as the best film song of the year.  And even better, in 2000, Over the Rainbow was recognized as the Number One Song of the 20th Century.


lSome interesting history from Harold Arlen’s biography:


“The Wizard of Oz was completed in 1939 and cost M-G-M some three million dollars to create. The movie was a huge success when released that year. Over six decades later, it continues to be a favorite of the young and old alike. The movie is simply magical as it takes its viewers from reality to fantasy by transforming the black and white scenes in Kansas to vivid color upon Dorothy's arrival in Oz. And while the special effects, grand costumes, lavish scenery and masterful makeup capture the eye, the songs settle in the hearts and heads of the audience and remain long after the movie's end.”


The audience was clearly enthralled.  As we left, people were skipping down the virtual yellow brick road and imitating the cackle of the wicked witch of the West.

For me the wonderful Harold Arlen songs play in my head and reach back to the first time I heard these captivating songs.


The Chicago Philharmonic was wonderful and their website tells their story.  It is  “A unique, musician-governed musical society.

Our mission: Through a community of musicians and community members, the Society wishes to excite, engage, and transform diverse audiences with the beauty and power of great music.

Chicago Philharmonic, Photo: Elliot Mandel


The Chicago Philharmonic Society is a collaboration of over 200 of the highest-level classical musicians performing in the Chicago metropolitan area. Governed under a groundbreaking structure of musician leadership, the Society presents concerts at venues throughout the Chicago area that cover the full spectrum of classical music, from Bach to Bernstein and beyond. The Society’s orchestra, known simply as the Chicago Philharmonic, has been called “one of the country’s finest symphonic orchestras” (Chicago Tribune), and its unique chamber music ensembles, which perform as the Chicago Philharmonic Chamber Players (cp2), draw from its vast pool of versatile musicians.”


Can't wait to see the show, Photo: LaTisha Lynette Jude


Ravinia Schedule


Photos: B. Keer unless otherwise noted


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