Elements of Oz

Reviewer's Rating

Get ready to dive into the fantastic world of technicolor with Elements of Oz from two-time Obbie Award winners The Builders Association.

When arriving at the theater you are greeted with phone chargers and guidelines for downloading an app designed to enhance the Elements of Oz experience. Holding up your phone’s camera to the stage you’ll be able to intensify the overall experience of the play, see the cyclone that sweeps away Dorothy’s home, interact with the flying monkeys, add imagery to Munchkin Country and even listen to them as Dorothy meets Glinda the good witch.

Marianne Weems directed Elements of Oz, which was written by James Gibbs and Moe Angelos, who also stars in the show. The play takes the audience through the making of the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” while dissecting its legacy.

Making use of live video, performances and incredibly choreographed use of the stage, Moe Angelos opens the production by recording herself using a selfie stick. The video is projected onto several screens on the stage along with testimony from YouTubers talking about the movie’s influence in society at large and the gay community in particular.

In the blink of an eye the stage unexpectedly turns into a film set, with an entire crew recreating some of the most iconic scenes from the movie while they are being filmed live. The actors Moe Angelos, Sean Donovan and Hannah Heller do a fantastic job playing the main characters of the story. During the show they all take turns playing Dorothy, pigtails and all. One of the most fascinating things to see is each of them interpreting her with a different approach: funny, gracious and imitating Judy Garland’s best known performance.

Fascinatingly all live filmed sequences are reassembled and played on the screens, showing the outstanding work put behind the technical aspects of the show. Moe Angelos provides interesting trivia, danger warnings and tricks about the film-making process, while smartphones vibrate every now and then to tell you to “look up” and add a new layer of fantasy through the augmented reality app designed for the show.

A great moment in Elements of Oz gives insight into the making of one of the key scenes of the film. The crew on stage is filming Dorothy leaving behind sepia Kansas as she opens the door and steps into Technicolor world. Watching this  gives you delighted chills about the sheer magic of movie making.

Elements of Oz is a well-paced 90 minute show, dynamic and interactive, fun and relaxed with superb performances, especially by Hannah Heller playing Margaret Hamilton playing the Wicked Witch of the West, Russian-American philosopher and playwright Ayn Rand and an incredible scene where we see Judy Garland laying on a bed, too tired to work, rebelling against what Hollywood has made of her, an exploited actress.

This is an extraordinary show, especially for all movie lovers, with a fantastic sense of humor and strong point of view, a great example of how technology can positively affect theater. Come and let it affect you!