For over a century, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has proven to be one of the most strangely malleable stories in all of American literature. Singer Todrick Hall is the latest to find pieces of his own autobiography in the tale of a murderous farm girl and her imaginary friends. It's too early to say if the American Idol semifinalist's traveling musical Straight Outta Oz will enter the pantheon of other notable interpretations we've ranked below.
More likely to sync up with a Siouxsie and the Banshees album than Dark Side of the Moon, Disney's nominal sequel to the 1939 classic—from that period in the '80s when Hollywood released a rash of live-action fantasy adventure flicks intended to scar the childhoods of its target audience—recasts the Technicolor dream world of the MGM original as a post-apocalyptic nightmare populated by creatures out of Sid and Marty Krofft's worst acid trips. Dystopian fun for the whole family!
Sure, Sidney Lumet's 1978 post-disco retelling had Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, but NBC's live production from last year had Mary J. Blige throwing shade, and enough gay innuendo to power a Miami Pride parade.
No-budget Turkish knockoffs of American cinematic classics always find ways to improve the source material—like, say, having the Lollipop Guild massacre a tribe of hammer-wielding cavemen with a cannon. It's lit, as the kids say.
And then there's the porn parody, which features almost as much singing as boning. (I'm told.) So it gets points for ambition. A million points off for the uninspired title, though, especially since The Jizzer of Oz was right there for the taking.
5. Oz (est. 1901)
As in Australia, a country that might as well have been founded as a giant Wizard of Oz theme park. They've got flying monkeys there, right?
A prequel no one asked for, starring James Franco, the wizard of projects no one asked for.
HBO's gritty remake replaces Emerald City with a maximum security prison, "Dorothy" with a timid lawyer doing time for manslaughter… and, well, that's sort of where the comparisons stop. Anyway, have you tried watching Oz lately? It hasn't aged well.
GO: Todrick Hall's Straight Outta Oz is at Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., on Saturday, July 9. 7:30 pm. $27.50-$100. All ages.