How Near-Death Experiences Paved the Way to the New Judy Garland Musical What does Marc Acito’s unexplained (yet temporary) paralysis at age four and his mother’s subsequent car crash have to do with the new musical Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz? Well, everything. “I am 50; I first saw The Wizard of Oz when I was three, which was in 1969, and it captivated me,” Acito explains. “A couple of months later, I’m having breakfast, and my father is reading the paper and says to me, ‘Marc, do you remember that girl who played Dorothy?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He points to a picture of her in the newspaper and says, ‘She’s dead.’” Since then Acito has been fixated with how death and The Wizard of Oz intertwine—how darkness and light must intersect before a rainbow appears and the thought of what exists behind the moon and beyond the rain. Years later, when Acito was 13 his mother was involved in a nearly fatal car accident, in which she veered off the road and hit a tree. The car flipped on top of her and pinned her to the ground. “This is where, though, it gets strange—as if that weren’t strange enough,” he says. “She’s now in the stars, if you will—in the sky in her mind—and she’s approached by a spirit guide who arrives in what looks to her like a translucent bubble, and they travel in this bubble over a rainbow bridge. They go over a bridge, and underneath the bridge is a river of enormous flowers. The bridge, like I said, is a rainbow, and they arrive at a crystal palace, where she sees all of her dead relatives, who then inform her that she needs to go back, and then she comes back. She was in the hospital for months and months and months because she was so damaged. She recovered as well, [but] when my mother told me the story of what she experienced when she was dead, it had this ring of recognition for me if you think about the imagery of what she experienced: Glinda arrives in a bubble, Dorothy goes over the rainbow, she arrives in Munchkinland where there are enormous flowers, she goes to an Emerald City. “I’m not saying, necessarily, that any of this is real. She could have been hallucinating… Any number of things are possible here because, of course, who knows what happens when you die. … But it absolutely cemented, in my personal mythology, the idea that The Wizard of Oz is really about mortality—that The Wizard of Oz is actually a near-death experience.
Harlem Rep to Stage Jazzy THE WIZARD OF OZ for Young Audiences Harlem Repertory Theatre will stage “The Wizard of Oz,” co-produced by the Yip Harburg Foundation, for young (and young-at-heart) audiences October 8 to December 13 at Tato Laviera Theatre at Harlem Prep Elementary School, 240 East 123rd Street (at 3rd Ave.), Manhattan. This production of the classic musical has a multi-racial cast, a jazzy underscore and authoritative dramaturgy by representatives of the Yip Harburg Foundation. The schedule offers weekday shows for school groups and Saturday matinees for the convenience of individual families. Director/choreographer is Keith Lee Grant, Artistic Director of Harlem Rep, who is in the midst of a four-year project of presenting four classic musicals that have lyrics by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, who was known in his lifetime as the “social conscience of Broadway.”
Granville features ‘Wizard of Oz’ in annual Scarecrow festival The Historic Granville Scarecrow Festival to occur Oct. 1-29 will feature the “Wizard of Oz” movie, which was filmed during the 1930s — the era Granville is currently honoring. The Memory Lane by Sutton General Store will be turned into a great creation telling the story of the “Wizard of Oz.” “The Wizard of Oz” will be brought to life by a nationally renowned Judy Garland impressionist as Dorothy. The board of directors of Granville Museum stated that they are pleased to resident Elaine Horn, endorsed by Warner Brothers to Granville. On Oct. 1 at the Granville Fall Celebration, visitors may enjoy a “behind the scenes” look at the “Wizard of Oz” and ask questions about the making of the movie. Be transported to the Land of Oz at 11:30 a.m. and a repeat performance at 1 p.m. with the captivating “Pop-up Storybook” performance. Bring a camera for a free photo opportunity with Dorothy. She will be appearing for fall school day that Historic Granville will host for schools on Sept. 30.