The Wiz is playing at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis now through March 18th, and my kids and I got to see it shortly after it opened. We LOVED it, and recommend it if you can go!
In January I shared my experience going backstage before it opened. The costumes are creatively designed by Matthew LeFebvre, it has an all-star cast, and was uniquely brought to the stage in partnership with Penumbra Theatre. Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1976 to create a forum for African American voices in the Twin Cities theatre community. It’s Minnesota’s only professional African American theatre, and is one of only three professional African American theatres in the nation that offer a full season of performances.
It was exciting seeing how this production had come together from just a few weeks prior when I visited backstage. The costumes were exactly as imagined – and the talent was top notch. It cast such great performers as Paris Bennett (American Idol top five finalist 2006) as Dorothy, Dennis Spears (Ivey Award for Excellence in Acting, Member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame) as Tinman, and T. Mychael Rambo (Guthrie Theatre, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood) as The Wiz.
The Wiz is a unique and modern re-telling of The Wizard of Oz story.
“My concept for our production is rooted deeply in African American history & custom,” stated Director Lou Bellamy. “Dorothy’s journey from (in our production) Nicodemus, Kansas to the Wiz’s palace in Harlem, pays homage to the Great Migration made during Reconstruction by thousands of African Americans from rural environs to urban living.”
One thing I thought was neat about the production was its use of people to act out events or things. The Tornado was one of my favorite parts of the show. Several women swept Dorothy away with lighting, sounds and effects that made the audience transfixed (at least it did for us!).
The whole production had many stunning moments, including solos sung by Dorothy and Glinda, and the whole sequence where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion met the Wiz. Actually, the scene when they met the Wiz was very much like the scene in the 1939 movie. And it was intense. Possibly too intense for little kids. In my opinion, older elementary age and up is ideal for seeing The Wiz. (The Children’s Theatre Company has more information about content advisories on their website.)
One thing worth noting – Though it was fun, The Wiz didn’t have many laugh-out-loud moments. Humor wasn’t as big in this production as other Children’s Theatre productions, but I felt that The Wiz definitely more than makes up for it in visuals and talent.
I’d say the 3 things I liked best about The Wiz were:
- The SINGING. Everyone on stage had talent but there were definitely some impressive moments that got some emotional “Woo’s” from the audience. I think the singing was the biggest reason the show got a standing ovation at the end.
- The COSTUMES. They were imaginative and designed just right for this musical.
- The EFFECTS. I thought the dramatic scenes were some of the best I’ve seen at Children’s Theatre Company.
The show is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission. It runs through March 18th, 2018. Tickets are going fast though so get your tickets soon! And be sure to use my discount link for 20% off tickets! (Just click on this link and it will automatically take the 20% off.)
(Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to this show. All opinions are 100% mine.)