What is in front of the audience at “The Wizard of Oz” at Alan Hancock College’s Marian Theatre in Santa Maria is enough to satisfy anyone: fantasy brought to life, not through computerized digits, but by the wizardry of theater, live actors, imaginative staging and skilled craftspeople.
But there’s more:
Go to a Saturday matinee, as I did, and look at the 5-year-olds and 75-year-olds and all ages in between, boys and girls and their grandparents, more than half the seats occupied by kids. In a 2 1/2 hour show, not a murmur of discontent, not a twitch or a wriggle. And not a smartphone, nor an iPad in use.
And even more: PCPA (the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts) is a theater school. Acting is important, but behind it is the production itself, unnoticed in most cases, but offering many more theater careers than being onstage. “The Wizard of Oz” taught students how to turn rods and fabric into Munchkins, and how to make monkeys fly.
Mark Booher, who directed “The Wizard of Oz,” runs the show at PCPA, a school where the students learn things they can’t find anywhere else. And never forget what they’ve learned.