This event is good for the heart, brain and courage.

The Museum of the Moving Image will present daily, 11 a.m. screenings of “The Wiz” from Friday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 15. And after each matinee, attendees will be able to look at the set models and learn more details about the cult classic at the on-site “Behind the Screen” exhibition.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the musical adventure film, which is director Sidney Lumet’s urban adaptation of “The Wizard of the Oz.” It features an all African-American cast starring Diana Ross (Dorothy), a 20-year-old Michael Jackson (Scarecrow), Lena Horne (Glinda, the Good Witch of the South), Richard Pryor (The Wiz), and Nipsy Russell (Tin Man). Plus, it has a Queens-heavy backstory.

In the opening scenes, Dorothy is a young Harlem teacher who rarely ventures below 125th Street before a snowstorm sweeps her away to Oz. Her first stop is Munchkinland, which in reality is located inside the New York State Pavilion, the former World’s Fair site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Dorothy fatally crashes onto Evermean, the Wicked Witch of the East, freeing the munchkins whom Evermean had transformed into graffiti and stuck on the concrete walls of what was the Tent of Tomorrow, the NYS Pavilion’s main exhibition space.

Further down the Yellow Brick Road, a group Flying Monkeys on motorcycles chases Dorothy and her buddies up and down what is really the entrance ramps and escalators at Shea Stadium. The New York Mets’ former home’s old metal squares are visible during parts of the pursuit, which includes Dorothy (or a stunt woman) racing along a catwalk by the ballpark’s top flood lights.

At other times along the way to see the Wiz, the camera takes audiences to Hollywood-style versions of Coney Island, the Chrysler Building, the New York Public Library’s main branch, and even the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station. The main characters end up in Emerald City, which is actually the old World Trade Center plaza. (The Wiz, who admits to being a failed politician from Atlantic City, lives on the top of the Towers. He got there via an air balloon while campaigning for dogcatcher.)

But the Queens plot is actually thicker. “The Wiz” was the first movie shot at the legendary Kaufman Astoria Studios after the now landmarked venue had been renovated and reopened in the 1970s. (Currently, “Orange is the New Black” and “Sesame Street” are among the productions being filmed there.)

Tickets are $15. The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District. It’s one block away from Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Image: Wiz The Musical


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