‘The Patchwork Girl of Oz’ has wit and charm at Greenbelt Arts Center

Marianne Virnelson as the Patchwork Girl adds zing to every scene she’s in.

The Wizard of Oz is only one of 14 books by L. Frank Baum featuring the land of Oz. The Patchwork Girl of Oz at Greenbelt Arts Center has all the elements of Baum’s winning formula — adorable young seeker on a quest, she makes friends who help her along the way, she has mishaps and strays off the path, but through friendship finds her way back, and a mystical powerful being (or at least someone who is particularly cunning) helps at the end. In this case, the Patchwork Girl is a particularly helpful friend to Ojo the Unlucky, who like fellow protagonist Dorothy in the earlier book travels across Oz on a mission.

Marianne Virnelson, Zoe Northrup, and Daniel Dausman in ‘The Patchwork Girl of Oz.’ Photo by Andy Culhane.

Zoe Northrup is a fresh young Ojo, determined to find the ingredients of a potion to help their guardian, Unc Nunkie, who accidentally gets drenched in petrifying lotion. Along with a Tin Woodman and Scarecrow (sounds familiar?), Ojo is accompanied by Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, who springs to life thanks to more potions and gets imbued with wit, ingenuity, intelligence, and charm by her maker, Dr. Pipt.

While Ojo the Unlucky lives up to his name getting into perilous misadventures, the friends somehow make their way through Munchkin country and find the unique ingredients needed for the concoction. When Ojo picks a special clover desperately needed to complete the healing potion and lands in jail, that’s when Princess Ozma swoops in with pomp and regalia to save the day.

Penny Martin, Jenna Jones Paradis, and Pamela Northrup in ‘The Patchwork Girl of Oz.’ Photo by Andy Culhane.

This neighborhood family production is an ambitious undertaking and is filled to the brim with cast members with varying degrees of singing and dancing experience. With a couple of exceptions, I couldn’t decipher the lyrics for most of the performers, which is problematic for a musical, and the scene changes are amateurish. However, the cast members are totally committed to their roles and the standout exceptions are noteworthy. Marianne Virnelson as Scraps the Patchwork Girl is particularly engaging. She adds zing to every scene she’s in with her megawatt smile, energy, and appeal, and makes the show worth seeing. Made from leftover scraps of material, Scraps is limber and quick with a fun temperament that lights the room. She belts out her songs like a showgirl, prances through the choreography with ease, and blends into the ensemble when it’s someone else’s turn in the spotlight. As Scraps, Virnelson is totally charming. Marge McGugan’s fascinating costume designs for the mystical characters elevate the caliber of the production while music director/pianist Christine Wells with Pete Reppert on keyboard provide a finely tuned accompaniment.

This Patchwork Girl production could use some sprucing up, but the basics are solid, and the performances are lovingly rendered and heartfelt.

Running Time: Two hours and 10 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz plays through July 8, 2023 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays June 25 and July 2 at 2:00 PM), at Greenbelt Arts Center, 123 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD. For tickets ($27, general admission; $24, senior/military; $14, child/student), phone the Box Office at 301-441-8770, go online, email [email protected]or buy at the door.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz is a family musical based on the seventh book in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. Click here for more details. The program for The Patchwork Girl of Oz is online here.

COVID Safety: Masks are required when in the building. See Greenbelt Arts Center’s current COVID-19 Reopening Plan.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Based on the book by L. Frank Baum
Book and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell, Music by Andy Roberts

Cast: Jenna Jones Paradis, Daniel Dausman, Christopher Howell, Zoe Northrup, Aref Dajani, Dave Robinson, Marianne Virnelson, Michael K. Heney, Ashira Cothron, Penny Martin, Brian Monsell, Karen Moore, Pamela Northrup

Director – Eliot Malumuth
Choreographer – Summer Moore
Stage Manager – Linda Sellner
Set Design – Eliot Malumuth
Lighting Design – Jason Kanow
Sound Design – Scott Bringen
Costumes – Marge McGugan
Properties Design – Eliot Malumuth
Music Director/Pianist – Christine Wells
Musical Accompaniment – Pete Reppert


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