We’re Off to See the Wizard…

When I was a kid, living in Baraboo, my friends and I would go see movies at the Al Ringling Theater on the downtown square. I only lived three blocks away, so it was a weekly thing to do.  But when I was a kid, I never appreciated the history of the Al Ringling Theater.

So while I was in Baraboo, this time, we decided to stop working early on Saturday to take in a special showing of the classic movie, Wizard of Oz, at the Al Ringling.

We went to the later 7pm showing and entering the theater, I was stunned by how beautiful it still was. They had changed the entrance by opening up a wall in the lobby to the building next door and using that for the ticket sales/concession area. A shame, since the original theater lobby was so cool looking.

But the main part of the theater looked as I had remembered. Originally built as a playhouse in the late 1800s, the late 1900s saw the theater showing films. Nowadays, the Al Ringling is a multi-entertainment venue, hosting family films, live concerts, plays and dance recitals.  For those with a love of history, the theater offers summer tours for $5 a person. It’s well worth it.

At any rate, we were there to see Dorothy and the Wizard, so we took our seats about midway towards the screen, slightly to the right. While waiting for people to be seated, we were entertained by a pianist dressed as the Wicked Witch on the historic Grand Barton theatre organ. I was so happy to see that this was still a theater fixture.

The film started about a half hour late, and we were warned prior to the showing there was a glitch with the film, in that the start of one of the reels was backwards so there was no sound.

What they didn’t mention is that this glitch took place just as the film turned technicolor, so the first three minutes or so of Dorothy in Oz was completely silent. Thankfully we didn’t miss too much of the Munchkins singing.

I enjoyed seeing Wizard of Oz on the big screen for the first time. I think seeing it in such a historic theater contributed to that. It was almost easy to imagine this was how people first saw the movie when it first came out.

I took photos with my cellphone while I was waiting for the film to start. Due to the lighting, the pictures aren’t the best, but you can still see how gorgeous the theater is.

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1 comment

  1. Colleen October 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    What a cool thing to do!!

    That last photo is eerily reminiscent of the stretching room (elevator) inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Or is that just because Halloween’s just around the corner? LOL!