We’re Off To See The Wizard…At Tavern On The Green

This band of Dorothys doesn't look likely to surrender.

This band of Dorothys doesn't
look likely to surrender.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Warner Bros. celebrated the 70th anniversary of The Wizard Of Oz — which arrives in a deluxe Blu-ray and DVD package on Tuesday — in grand style by holding a big bash at the famous Tavern On The Green restaurant in New York’s Central Park. Reportedly the most watched film of all time, Oz continues to resonate with fans of all ages. Fittingly, the evening’s festivities began with photo ops by the Wizard-themed Emerald City Green hot air balloon that was wrapping up a tour of the country in NYC.

On hand at the Emerald Gala evening event were Jennifer “Oz” LeRoy, Tavern’s owner and CEO and granddaughter of Wizard producer Mervyn LeRoy; Cass Warner, founder and president of Warner Sisters, granddaughter of studio chief Harry Warner and creator of the new documentary film and book The Brothers Warner; singer and actress Lorna Luft, daughter of star Judy Garland; and five of the original Munchkins — Ruth Duccini, Jerry Maren, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe and Karl Slover — three of whom celebrated birthdays recently. The youngest, Margaret, is 86. (For more detailed info on the Munchkins, check out this Must Hear TV entry by Jim Colucci. I’ll be posting my own interview with them later this week.)

The event last Thursday night featured a quick tune from two members of the Wizard of Oz touring company; a song by Luft, which she followed with a medley of songs from the film, including one that was cut; and a crowd-pleasing appearance by the Munchkins themselves. Popular R&B singer Ashanti, who recently appeared in The Wiz in New York, provided the final performance by singing “Over The Rainbow” and one of her own numbers.

All in all it was a fun evening and a fitting tribute to a movie which truly stands the test of time.

Following are photos from the event.


Lorna Luft posing in front of the Oz hot air balloon.

Lorna Luft posing in front
of the Oz hot air balloon.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Luft with five of the original Munchkins.

Luft with five of the original Munchkins -- left to right:
Jerry Maren, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe,
Karl Slover and Ruth Duccini.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Jennifer "Oz" LeRoy and Lorna Luft.

Jennifer "Oz" LeRoy and Lorna Luft.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Dorothy times four, ready for lift-off.

Dorothy times four, ready for lift-off.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Jennifer "Oz" LeRoy taking off.

Jennifer "Oz" LeRoy taking flight.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Off to Kansas?

Next stop Kansas?
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

A horse of another color.

A horse of another color.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Hooves of another color.

Hooves of another color.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Dorothy, Toto and their posse.

Dorothy, Toto and their posse.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Are the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow looking for a new Dorothy?

Are the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow
looking for a new Dorothy?
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

For some reason, I did not snap a photo of Cass Warner, but she was there, so here is her headshot to make up for my omission.

For some reason, I did not get a chance
to snap a photo of Cass Warner at the party,
but she was there, so here is her
headshot to make up for my omission.

Lanterns at twilight.

Lanterns at twilight.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

An opulent Tavern hallway.

An opulent Tavern hallway.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Jennifer LeRoy addresses the throng.

Jennifer LeRoy addresses the throng.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Oz touring castmates entertain the crowd.

The Scarecrow and Dorothy entertain the crowd.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

The Munchkins arrive.

The Munchkins arrive.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Munchkins (l to r) Margaret Pelligrini, Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover.

Munchkins (l to r) Margaret Pelligrini, Meinhardt Raabe,
Ruth Duccini and Karl Slover.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

More Munchkins.

The Munchkins about to address the crowd.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Jerry Maren, aka the middle Lollipop Guild singer, performs his famous lyrics. (Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Jerry Maren, aka the middle Lollipop Guild
singer, performs his famous lyrics.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Lorna Luft belting out a song.

Lorna Luft belting out a tune.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Post Oz medley adulation.

Post Oz-medley adulation.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Ashanti charms the crowd.

Ashanti charms the crowd.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Ashanti lets loose.

Ashanti lets loose.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

One of many Oz-related paintings inside.

One of many Oz-related paintings inside.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Two dazzling Oz pieces.

Two dazzling Oz art pieces.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Dorothy as Bettie Page?

Dorothy as Bettie Page?
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

A new twist on an old favorite.

A new twist on an old favorite.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Among the 20 pairs of ruby slippers up for charity auction.

Among the 20 pairs of modern ruby slippers from designers
like Betsey Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg and
Oscar de la Renta to be auctioned off to benefit
the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

Party on the patio.

Party on the patio.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)

An emerald chandalier.

An emerald chandalier.
(Photo ©2009 by Bryan Reesman.)



3 Responses

  1. dorothy dorothy

    […] style, harvard dan rearick even as we gasp at their phenomenal feats on the field, the ice, the matWe're Off To See The Wizard…At Tavern On The Green …Are the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow looking for a new Dorothy? … Dorothy as Bettie Page? ( […]

    Reply
  2. Reuben Powell

    Ashanti is one of my favorite singers because of a great, crystal clear voice.

    Reply

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