Friday, March 31, 2017

Review of Emerald City Theatre's The Wiz

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Wiz. It was adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The book was by William F. Brown, with additional material by Tina Tippit. The music and lyrics were by Charlie Smalls. I saw another production of The Wiz and I really liked that one, but it was very different from this one. This one is more appropriate for younger children because it is much shorter and it has made some of the grown-up themes less prominent. It is about a girl named Dorothy (Isis Elizabeth) who has been swept away to a magical land where she meets new friends on her way home. I thought this was a really fun show. I think it is really great that they have a version of this wonderful musical aimed at children.

I went to see this show with a three-year-old friend and a fourteen-year-old friend and we were all rocking out to the Scarecrow (Leon Evans), Tinman (Jar'Davion Brown), and Lion (Miguel Long) songs. The Scarecrow was so clueless, but in a lovable way. I thought his dancing was really fun to watch; he does a bunch of acrobatic moves, which I thought were amazing. Even though the lyrics of his song "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday" are actually not always so happy, the song is still upbeat and the Scarecrow still seems to be content with parts of his life, if he could just get away from the crows. In a kids' production it might be kind of strange to have the Tinman be attracted to Dorothy, so they made the song "Slide Some Oil to Me" seem more friendzone-y. I think that was a really good idea. This Tinman still sang a great song, but it was more appropriate for kids. The Lion is such a fabulous, sassy character and his song "Mean Ole Lion" is so hilarious and amazing. The young child I went with seemed kind of freaked out until the Lion was done roaring, but then she became more comfortable during the song.

I thought that Glinda (Aziza Macklin) was fabulous. Her dress (costumes by Kate Kamphausen) was gorgeous as well as her singing. I also loved Dorothy's dress and her voice. I noticed that in this production they cast the same actor as Glinda and Aunt Em. So when Dorothy and Glinda meet at the end, the connection they have is kind of like Dorothy's with Aunt Em. I thought that was really sweet. In the Kokandy production they cast the same person as Aunt Em and Evilene. I think both of those choices make sense. I think seeing Aunt Em turn evil might be strange to a kid because a younger child looks up to their caretakers much more than a teenager does. But the choice makes sense for the Kokandy production to me because it is more about the teenage experience of going away from home and thinking that your mother figure is sometimes like the Wicked Witch of the West.

People who would like this show are people who like kid-friendly productions, lovable scarecrows, and friendzone tinmen. This is a super fun show to see with kids. I liked it a lot.

Photos: Austin D. Oie

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