BY SAM DESMOND

With many iterations, origin stories, and sequels, “The Wizard of Oz” has its own world of fan fiction, but nothing beats the original score and story of the 1939 classic.

The CM Performing Arts Center closes out their 49th season with the incomparable staple of American cinema and theater, giving their devoted patrons a great segue into the decadence and nostalgia of the holiday season.

The sheer number of moving parts (as evidenced by the additional three tracks put in by “Oz” director, John Mazzarella) in CMPAC’s iteration is magic all on its own, providing the performers with an ample and gorgeous launching pad for the choreography and voices showcased.

From the Midwestern wholesomeness of Aunty Em and Uncle Henry’s farm—complete with actually corn stalks donated by Bayport Flower Houses—to the Japanese-“Lolita” Munchkinland, to the “Solaris”-style Emerald City, each set was a world of its own, covering an entire genre of characters.

Sarah Minto as Dorothy Gale perfectly captured the effervescence and can-do attitude of the story’s protagonist. Performing the play’s most famous song, “Over the Rainbow,” Minto had a breathy phrasing that was refreshing for the role.

Minto, Bryan Bowie (Hunk/Scarecrow), Patrick Campbell (Hickory/Tin Man), and Kevin Callaghan (Zeke/The Cowardly Lion) had wonderful chemistry that translated to even more heartfelt ensemble numbers that the audience responded to.

In her dual role of the homely and stern Aunty Em and the glamorous Glinda, Gabrielle Farah displayed an impressive range that took her from a no-frills farm matron to the mid-Atlantic-accented Good Witch.

Also in a dual role was Jenn Demopoulos (Almira Glutch/The Wicked Witch), who was deliciously devilish in both roles, but still managed to make the mayhem they wrought distinguishable from each other.

Particularly in her role as The Wicked Witch, Demopoulos was almost a drag performer in her over-the-top threats and animated arm sweeps.

Sound designer Brianne Boyd captured the whimsical and fantastical nature of the play with clear, reverberating, and layered aural entertainment.

Christopher Creevy’s lighting design was essential to storytelling and mood with dark forests and warm, bright, Yellow Brick Road sojourns for The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.

Costume designer Chakira-Iliana Doherty did best in group numbers with beautifully coordinated ensemble outfits. The citizens of Emerald City were dressed like 90s-style comic book characters in their brazen lines and boxy silhouettes.

Matthew W. Surico conducted the orchestra through some of the best-known songs in American pop culture with confidence and individuality, seemingly elevating the actors’ voices.

Tickets: https://cmpac.com/event/wizardofoz/

Read the Review Here.

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