Every couple of months, something pops up on my Facebook news feed and grabs me by the heartstrings. This week, it was “Tuesdays with Matthew.”
The post read “WATCH: Senior Citizens recreate “The Wizard of Oz” to celebrate the film’s 78th Anniversary!” Facebook knows me as well as any of my real-life friends. I’m a sucker for fun-loving seniors, parodies and anything to do with “The Wizard of Oz.” A video combining all three? Irresistible.
The first few times I watched “The Wizard of Oz,” it was on our family’s black-and-white television set, so the film’s Technicolor effects were lost on me. When I finally saw it “in living color,” as the NBC preshow announcements proclaimed, the brilliant hues fascinated me. I especially loved Munchkinland, which became the locale for many of my childhood daydreams.
Years later, as a freshman at Baldwin High School, my fantasies were realized through Miss Sue Ann Loudon and the drama club. “The Wizard of Oz” was my first stage production, performed before hundreds of elementary school children in the Baldwin Auditorium. The show began with the curtain down and two Munchkins running out onto the apron, to the squealing delight of the young audience. As Boq, I had the opening line: “A big black wind up high, see?!” Patty Velasquez, as Zoq, shouted, “A house came flying by, whee!”
Then the curtains parted to reveal the little house, smack dab in the middle of Munchkinland, with a pair of witchy legs protruding from beneath. Boq and Zoq led the rest of the Munchkins in a happy dance, and the kids shouted their approval. To this day, I can close my eyes and see the awe and enchantment on the faces of the first few rows as they gazed up at us. It was a defining moment for me, and I have always associated Oz with the performing career I’ve been fortunate to enjoy.
As regular readers of this column know, I’ve also been blessed with an equally rewarding second occupation with Kaunoa Senior Services. Although I’m no longer employed there, I still volunteer at Kaunoa several times a month.
So when I saw Matthew Hoffman’s post, I had to follow the instructions and WATCH. An hour later, I had watched half a dozen of his productions and my amusement had evolved into admiration.
“Tuesdays with Matthew” is a program that takes iconic scenes from famous movies and casts scene-iors (as Matthew calls them) in the roles. He creates the costumes and props himself and even brings a green screen to the Los Angeles senior center where the productions are staged and shot. The TWM version of “The Wizard of Oz” included a sepia-to-color transition, like the original movie. All of the characters, including Toto and even the tornado, were wonderfully portrayed by seniors. Ninety-one-year-old Sonia played Dorothy, wearing ruby red slippers fashioned from shower caps.
The four-minute video was so delightful, I spent the next half-hour watching TWM productions of “Casablanca,” “Titanic,” “Thelma and Louise,” “Brokeback Mountain” (no joke!) and more. “Gone with the Wind” featured a 95-year-old Scarlett O’Hara opposite an 86-year-old Rhett Butler.
My favorite video was the one in which Matthew hosted “Movie Night Premiere” at the center, rolling out the red carpet and providing popcorn and Ensure (served in champagne flutes) for the seniors, who watched themselves and their friends on screen for the first time. Several of them commented that TWM has given them “new life” and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Not only is TWM a completely volunteer effort, Matthew donates proceeds to the national Meals on Wheels organization. His website states, “We are sharing our movies to inspire others to find their own ‘Tuesdays’ and highlight the importance of volunteering. . . . My goal is to help prove old is the new young — and sometimes the last act can be the best.”
You can watch the videos and learn more about TWM and its inspirational host at www.matthewhoffman.tv or on his Facebook page or YouTube channel. I think you’ll agree, Matthew Hoffman is a Wizard of Awwws.
* Kathy Collins is a storyteller, actress and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is email@example.com.