L. Frank Baum

“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t you think?”

Later on this evening, I’ll be heading to Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Downtown Vancouver to catch Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. The Broadway musical explores some of the history for the magical land of Oz, both before the arrival of Dorothy Gale from Kansas, as well as after her arrival.

In some ways, you could say there are some distinct parallels between this story and the one told in Oz: The Great and Powerful. While Oz focused on the man who would become the Wizard, Wicked looks to Elphaba and Glinda. These are the unlikely friends who would later become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North. Of course, Wicked borrows heavily from the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book by L. Frank Baum.

And in that book, we are introduced to quite the strange quartet, all of whom are seeking something from this all-powerful Wizard that everyone keeps talking about. Dorothy just wants to go home, the Cowardly Lion is looking for some courage, the Tin Man yearns for a heart, and the Scarecrow seeks a brain. When asked how he is able to speak if he does not have a brain, the Scarecrow replies with the quote above.

While the utterly sincere line is surely meant as a fun joke for the audience, it does offer a keen insight into the real world. There are a lot of people out there who “don’t have a brain,” yet they are oftentimes the ones who do the most talking. In this way, we’ve come to recognize that it is not necessarily the brightest, smartest or most well-informed voice that gets heard. It’s the one that is loudest, the one who is the most loquacious. Words can be powerful, but talk is cheap.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

“No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”

On some level, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a straightforward tale for kids (and the young at heart) to enjoy. On another level, like so many other children’s stories, it offers far more profound lessons and philosophical ponderings that we should all take to heart.

Yes, it doesn’t matter where I travel in the world or what wonderful sights I may see. There is no place like home… because home is so much more than just four walls and a roof. And it takes brains, courage and heart to recognize that.