Music from Oz, in all its forms, at the DSO this weekend

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
An earlier performance of "The Wonderful Music of Oz" with the Pittsburgh Symphony, coming to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Friday-Sunday for the last weekend in the DSO's PNC Pops series.

Get ready to vault that famous rainbow.

"The Wonderful Music of Oz" comes to Detroit's Orchestra Hall Friday through Sunday, with songs not just from he celebrated 1939 Judy Garland film, but also from the 1978 movie "The Wiz," the Broadway hit "Wicked," and rock and roll.

The full Detroit Symphony Orchestra will perform the show created by New York tenor and producer Scott Coulter, with featured soloists and the Detroit Concert Choir.

"It’s an interesting concept for a concert," said Michael Frisco, DSO director of audience development. "It’s a chance to take a step back and realize all the ways the 'Wizard of Oz' has inspired music across all sorts of genres, whether Hollywood, Broadway or pop music."  

"Music of Oz" premiered last year at the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and has since been performed all across the country.

There are about 18 songs in the performance, Coulter said, noting that the only selection criterion -- apart from musical quality -- was that they be based, one way or another, on the Oz novels by L. Frank Baum. 

In addition to the movie and Broadway scores, "Music of Oz" also features the Elton John ballad "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and, promised Couter, "a few other surprises. Anything that used that original novels as its source material is fair game."

Interestingly, he pointed out that Elton John's professional partner and lyricist, Bernie Taupin, always said "The Wizard of Oz" was his favorite film - which certainly explains the genesis of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

Songs from "The Wiz," which featured an all African-American cast with Diana Ross and Richard Pryor, include "Ease on Down the Road," "Home," and "So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard."

The latter will be performed by Blaine Krauss, who currently stars on Broadway in "The Cher Show." (Amusingly, "Cher" was co-produced by Oak Park native Jeffrey Seller, better known for bringing the smash hit "Hamilton" to the stage.)

Other "Music of Oz" soloists are Coulter and Kelli Rabke. At the piano will be the multi-talented John Boswell, who also sings. 

Coulter's word for the songs from "The Wiz" is "fantastic," adding that the soundtrack includes "what are probably some of the best songs of any attached to this story."

And what can you look forward to from the iconic 1939 "Wizard of Oz?" Clearly, no producer worth his salt could leave out "Over the Rainbow," or the beloved "If I Only Had a Brain." 

In addition, Coulter said, you'll get to enjoy "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," the "Munchkinland Medley" as well as the "Cyclone Medley."

The music that accompanies the film's black-and-white tornado -- which so seldom gets its due -- is, he promised, "a very cool orchestra feature that's thrilling to hear live."

All in all, Coulter said, "It’s a fun, very moving show. It’s more than a concert. It takes the audience on an emotional journey with lots of laughs and lots of tears."

And who wouldn't risk a cyclone for that kind of entertainment? 

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Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

'The Wonderful Music of Oz' with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra 

Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit

Fri: 10:45 a.m. & 8 p.m.

Sat: 8 p.m.

Sun: 3 p.m. 

Tickets: $24-$100 

(313) 576-5111