The Dreamer of Oz
Percepto Records (PERCEPTO-014)
Year Released: 1990 / 2003
Conducted by Lee Holdridge
Review: Dreamer of Oz, The
3 / 5 Stars
Everyone remembers Wizard of Oz. But did you know there have been over 110 adaptations of the Oz series, film and television? The only literary character that even beats that record is Dracula, and that's only by only a few projects with Sherlock Holmes in a very distant third. However, outside of very surreal Return to Oz (1985) or the abysmal Under the Rainbow (1980), which technically isn't even an adaptation, people don't even remember the other productions.
This 1990 NBC TV movie wasn't about the land of OZ, but the man created it, L. Frank Baum. The movie shows the real life dramas and influences on Baum to create Dorothy, the Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and various citizens of the Oz books. The production had a script by legendary genre writer Richard Matheson and a cast lead by John Ritter as Baum, which makes this particular show rather timely.
Adding to the quality of the production was composer Lee Holdridge, a TV music veteran with the recently fantastic Mists of Avalon (2001). Dreamer or Oz is a solid affair that fans of Holdridge specifically might like to pick up now that interest has been building back up in him.
Holdridge creates two themes for the score: an imagination theme for when Baum creates or tells his stories of Oz and a secondary melancholy piano motif for Dorothy, the girl that influenced the books. The orchestra is small, but Holdridge gets a lot of it, as he keeps the scope intimate, emphasizing the piano and gentle strings. But Holdridge also plays around briefly in other genres. There is a Aaron Copland flair to "Aberdeen" and "Baum's Bazaar" as Holdridge suggests Turn of the Century Americana. Oz sequences such as "Scarecrow" are magical, yet personal as it tries to keep the feeling personal or close to the chest, making the imagining of Oz personal to Baum.
There is a moment or too that feel too canned or too much like "TV music", but they do not in anyway ruin the album. Included is a rather full booklet of liner notes on the production and analysis of the score.
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