to right: Kevin Lauver as the Scarecrow (North Olmsted High
School senior), Isabel Sansom as Dorothy (Magnificat High School
senior), Brian Schuler as the Tinman (St. Ignatius High School
junior), Michael Conroy as the Wiz (St. Ignatius High School
senior) and in front, Brennan Kilbane as the Lion (Fairview
High School junior).
version of ‘The Wiz’ wows audience
By Sue Botos
Published Dec. 1, 2010
From the announcement
by the unseen Wicked Witch of the West, anyone in the audience for
Magnificat High School's production of "The Wiz" could
tell this was not going to be the traditional trip down the yellow
brick road. In fact, the road itself actually came alive,
A stellar ensemble
fueled the musical by Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown, based
on the classic tale by L. Frank Baum, of a Kansas farm girl's adventures
in the land of Oz. Originally performed by an all African-American
cast, opening in 1975, the show reframes the original in a way relavant
for the time. But how does a cast not even born yet in the 1970s
take on this challenge? With humor, research, and an explosion of tie-dye.
Groupies" — several singers attired in bell bottoms, platform
shoes and head bands — provided background information at the start
of the show, outlining the "populist movement" of the
'70s, where the "little guy" (munchkins?) went up against
big business (The Wiz?). Dorothy's slippers are silver and not the
usual ruby to stand for money, they quipped.
Sullivan was far from the traditional Auntie Em, belting out "The
Feeling We Once Had" in a silver evening gown, which was revealed
after chorus members removed her house dress. This process of "flipping"
was used throughout the performance rather than off-stage costume
changes to portray characters' inner personas. Tinman Brian Schuler,
a St. Ignatius High School student, showed his "man about town"
persona with a "flip" to a zebra striped hat and jacket
for his rendition of "Slide Some Oil on Me."
Sansom led the cast as the perfect Dorothy, her voice soaring over
"Soon as I Get Home." She and the other yellow brick road
travelers played well together. North Olmsted High School senior
Kevin Lauver was a hilarious rubber-jointed scarecrow, flipping
and flopping over the stage with ease, while Brennan Kilbane portrayed
a cowardly lion in therapy to deal with childhood issues. Of course,
there was "the little dog, too", Eliza Lockhart as Toto.
The road itself
came to life with four roller skaters wearing yellow leg warmers
and skirts. Chorus members wore tie-dyed body suits over which they
"flipped" costumes for "hippie" munchkins, poppies,
Emerald City residents and even the tornado which transports Dorothy
This Oz also
featured another witch, with the addition of the delightfully goofy
Addaperle (senior Nicole DeAnna), as the good witch of the south,
who cruised around on a tricycle.
a more brief and less green appearance, Evillene, the wicked witch
of the West (Elizabeth Sweeney) was no less memorable, as she belted
out the gospel influenced "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,"
surrounded by her flying monkeys.
Of course, what
would "The Wiz" be without the Wiz? St. Ignatius senior
Michael Conroy's title character strutted about in a leisure suit
and zebra striped platform shoes, giving the order to do in the
wicked witch, who ultimately met her fate with a splash (of water).
The Wiz granted the travelers their wishes of courage (lion), heart
(tin man) and a brain (scarecrow) and stayed true to the original
also by floating away from Oz in a "hot air balloon" —
psychedelic colored of course — leaving Dorothy behind. Glinda,
the good witch, came floating down the aisle in a shower of bubbles
to direct Dorothy home with three clicks of her heels. In this version,
Dorothy is allowed to keep the shoes to come back to visit with
her friends anytime.
time period, costumes, and music were different, this Wiz's message
was the same as the original, "There's no place like home."