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Theater review: Elements of Oz takes audiences on a high-tech rainbow tour

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman

There’s a lovely sequence in Elements of Oz, the Builders Association’s deconstruction and live reconstruction of The Wizard of Oz, that shows the filming of a scene in which Dorothy steps from sepia Kansas into her Technicolor dreamland. One can imagine how delightful that must have been for audiences in 1939, when films in color were a relative novelty. Written by Moe Angelos and James Gibbs, and impressively coordinated by director Marianne Weems, Elements of Oz taps into a modern feeling of technological wonder while demystifying an earlier one. Three tongue-in-cheek actors—Angelos, Sean Donovan and Hannah Heller—switch roles around and play scenes from the movie out of order; those scenes are filmed and then reassembled in sequence. Throughout the show, spectators are encouraged to keep their phones on and employ a special app that adds graphics such as poppies and flying monkeys.

The behind-the-scenes Wizard of Oz material is punctuated with monologues by Angelos—seminar-style history lessons, full of tasty trivia, that emphasize difficulties and dangers in the filming—and a few tangential reenactments: interviews with Salman Rushdie and Ayn Rand, a snippet of Judy Garland’s bitter notes toward a never-realized autobiography. The rainbow connections are sometimes oblique, but the show provides a lively and diverting look at the gears of artistic wizardry and the ways in which we get caught up in them.

3LD Art & Technology Center (Off-Off Broadway). Written by Moe Angelos and James Gibbs. Directed by Marianne Weems. With Angelos, Sean Donovan, Hannah Heller. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission. Click here for full ticket and venue information.

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