The Wiz – Theater Review
“The Wiz”, the 1974 rock and soul musical based on the beloved L. Frank Baum story about Dorothy and her adventures in Oz.
Pick of the Week!
I already love encores. I think they do a great job of bringing back things for a couple of days with great orchestration, great cast and basically no staging. The Wiz is different, in that, yes it’s still at City Center, but instead of running for two or three days, it’s running for almost a month. It goes from June 12 to July 5, and it is terrific. It is the remake of the movie, “The Wiz” that was done in 1975. Can you believe that? Nearly 35 years ago. But it is “The Wizard of Oz” done sort of hip style. The cast is all African Americans. The leads are Ashanti and Orlando Jones. Ashanti, unfortunately belts rather than sings, and she can’t move and she can’t act very well, but the rest of the cast is just fabulous, and any reservations you have about her, and clearly you’ll have them, are more than overcome by the choreography, the costuming, the exuberance. The songs aren’t particularly memorable. The only thing that you’ll go out singing is “Ease On Down The Road” but you will go out singing that. But it’s just a joyful experience. LaChanze, who was in “The Color Purple” is terrific. The cast is uniformly good, except for the exception that I mentioned. But go see “The Wiz”. And you’re going to have to rush, because it’s not there for very long, but it’s absolutely worth your time and energy. And even with Ashanti, I’m going to give it four stars.