Run. No, better yet, fly down to the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, CPA ( www.pcpa.org ), at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria to catch their Holiday presentation of "The Wizard of Oz," now playing until Dec 26.
I have never seen a bad performance at PCPA and their holiday presentations are always something even more special. This year is no exception. All your favorite Ozian characters are here, including the original music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. And even better, (and what could be more suitable to the Ozian material?), they've added the most amazing puppets (including Toto) designed by Emily DeCola of New York's Puppet Kitchen. She also created the puppets designs that were so beautifully utiltzed in PCPA's "My Fairytale," an original musical about Hans Christian Anderson's life that was presented a few years ago.
There is something so utterly magical about puppets in a theatre piece. The audience must push the "willing suspension of disbelief" even further into the realm of magic and childlike delight. As Ms. DeCola noted, "There is a co-creation that takes place whenever you ring a puppet on stage, wherein, the audience and performer are both 'believing' something into existence. As an audience, it's rewarding because puppetry ups the ante in terms of asking the audience to become more creatively involved in the work taking place on stage." Add in the always clever, often astonishing set decoration and incredibly skillful lighting and costumes, and you've got an absolutely enchanting piece of theatre.
So, do yourself a favor, give yourself a real Christmas gift, and don't miss this one. It's fantastic.