The Wiz currently playing at the Children's Theater, a co-production with the Penumbra Theater, is a hit and a must see for any musical theater fans. The reimagining of the Wizard of Oz with an all African American cast, the show that first opened on Broadway in 1975, feels fresh with top notch performances and imaginative stage design.
This production of the Wiz brings Oz to New York City.
All of the design elements combine to create a breathtaking visual spectacle. The costumes designed by Matthew LeFebvre mix the fantastical with urban. The scenic design by Vicki Smith masterfully mixed onstage set pieces with projections (designed by Craig Gottschalk) and the lighting design by Don Darnutzer set the mood and transported the audience to Oz. All of these top notch design elements combined with the high energy choreography by Patdro Harris made it impossible to take your eyes off of what was going on onstage. It all flowed together so well, it is a show that could easily be seen multiple times without feeling bored, there are so many things to follow on stage.
If an outstanding creative team and design isn't enough the show is also filled with a star studded cast. Paris Bennett as Dorothy brought the house down with her rendition of Home. Aimee Bryant brought warmth and humor to her role as Addaperle. Greta Oglesby started the show with bang as Aunt Em and was wickedly fun as Evilene. Last but certainly not least Dennis Spears was a highlight of the show for me in his role of the Tin Man. His performance demanded attention, as he found the perfect between comedy and a jazzy swagger. I also always love seeing China Brickey onstage and wonder why she isn't in a bigger role so I hope she gets a chance to shine in one of her many understudy roles.
The Children Theater and Penumbra Theater companies production of The Wiz does not have any weak links. The design is captivating, the music catchy and the performances are top notch.
I mention it nearly every time I write about the Children's Theater, but I love watching kids learning to love theater. I also appreciate that they make the shows a pleasure to watch for the adults in the audience as well. And this production of The Wiz finds that balance of a family show perfectly.
I know a lot of shows are opening in February but I still feel confident in saying that The Wiz is one of the best tickets in town.
The Wiz is playing at the Children's Theater until March 18th.
Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo by Dan Norman