Do you ever wish you could close your eyes, click your sparkly, red shoes together, repeat “there’s no place like home” and find your way to a place that feels like home?
The Kansas City Ballet’s breathtaking production of “The Wizard of Oz,” at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts through May 22, is an invitation to us all to consider what and where home is and to cherish every moment spent there.
Choreographer Septime Webre’s fantastical journey to Emerald City, originally produced by the KC Ballet in 2018 with great acclaim, holds true to the familiar story of Dorothy and Toto being swept off to Oz to join three unlikely heroes on a quest to see the Wizard, battling the Wicked Witch in order to return home.
But Webre’s mastery of movement paired with Matthew Pierce’s original score performed by the Kansas City Symphony and bright, bold costumes, sets, projections and special effects tug at my heart strings more than Judy Garland’s journey ever did.
Some of us might have fond memories of a childhood “home,” a safe place filled with people who act as our true north. Some of us – due to trauma, moves, deaths in the family, etc. – have worked hard in adulthood to find people and places to create a new “home” for ourselves. Whether it’s just time spent with certain people or returning to a specific location, going home is centering. It’s a part of being human to long for “home,” to feel like you belong and that you are loved and valued.
Eyes wide open (with me making every attempt not to blink so I didn’t miss anything) and jaw likely slightly ajar, I watched the whole wizard-fighting crew of “Oz” leap, bound and fly across stage and I kept asking myself why “home” can seem so elusive to so many of us.
Why must we fight off witches and winged monkeys to get there? And why, once we get there, can it be so hard to just rest in the peace and comfort of “home”? We tend to assume a tornado could pick it up and take it away at any moment, right? It has before, after all.
Thinking over references to home in scripture, it becomes a little more clear why we long for “home” and why “home” feels so temporary in this life.
Home in this life is temporary by its nature. God gives us people and places to give us a taste of what our true home will be like. But, we won’t arrive there in this life. Our earthly homes will have their faults (disputes, deaths, natural disasters, etc.). Even Jesus voiced aggravation with certain behaviors and a lack of honor that we sometimes get at “home” with people who know us well (Mark 6). But, there’s still the tradeoff that they know us well. And those people still showed up to see what Jesus was up to even if they were suspect, didn’t they?
The passage that possibly most clearly tells the story of our pursuit for home is 2 Corinthians 5:1-8.
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Just like Dorothy and her pals must put in the work to find and enjoy true “home,” we must do the same. We must treasure the “homes” we have in this life that God has given us as a taste of our heavenly homes. And, when the Wicked Witches or Flying Monkeys of this life try to rob of us “home,” we must remember that our true home isn’t something anyone or anything can ever take from us.
It’s tornado proof, I promise.
Purchase tickets for “The Wizard of Oz”
• Online at www.kcballet.org
• By telephone at 816.931.8993.
• At the Kauffman Center box office