September 28, 2015

“Next time I’ll bring one of my grandsons,” cracked a woman behind me at “Elements of Oz,” a technologically sophisticated new show from the Builders Association that riffs on the celebrated movie “The Wizard of Oz.” Good idea, I thought. Just don’t bring Patti LuPone. That estimable performer, as you may know, recently made news when she snatched a cellphone from a patron’s hand at a performance, in high dudgeon over that audience member’s constant texting. At “Elements of Oz,” having its premiere as part of the Peak Performances season at Montclair State University here, viewers are encouraged to use smartphones or tablets during the performance. These devices are not, of course, meant to be used for random texting and calling. You download a special app that instructs you to put your phone in airplane mode until the show starts. The app then provides access to various elements that enhance the production, primarily nifty filters that, when you point the phone at the stage, add new layers of imagery to the action. When Dorothy’s house in Kansas flies skyward, for example, you can hold up your phone and see a real corker of a tornado and slashing rain that isn’t apparent to the naked eye.