Photo Coverage: THE WIZ's Ashanti and Nigel Host 'There's No Place Like Home' Adoption Day at City Center
"There's No Place Like Home" for homeless shelter dogs, according to Nigel, the former street-dog-turned-stage-star, who is making his New York professional debut in The Wiz at City Center in June. The need for a home is what inspired Nigel, along with co-star Ashanti (who plays Dorothy) to host "There's No Place Like Home" Adoption Day on Saturday, May 30th at at City Center (55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues). BroadwayWorld.com was there for all the 'WIZ' filled fun!
Nigel, in the tradition of the original Sandy, (who shot to stardom in the original production of Annie), had a hard-knock life before finding salvation and stardom in the theatrical world. He was born in Arkansas almost 20 months ago. Life was not easy for the 15-pound pup, who was abandoned on the street before finding haven with the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society. In a modern-day version of the famous legend of Lana Turner, who was discovered by a talent scout at a Schrafts Drugstore, Nigel was discovered on the Humane Society's website by Bill Berloni, award-winning theatrical animal trainer and Director of Animal behavior for the Humane Society of New York, who was looking for just the right dog to play Toto.
Joining Nigel in the cast of The Wiz will be Ashanti as Dorothy, along with Orlando Jones (The Wiz), Joshua Henry, James Monroe Iglehart, ChristIan White, Tichina Arnold, Dawnn Lewis and LaChanze, as well as Raymond Lamar Bennett, Tanya Birl, Darlesia Cearcy, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Angela Grovey, Ebony Haswell, Lauren Lim Jackson, Carl Lation, Maurice Lauchner, Jennifer Locke, Amy McClendon, Kenna Michelle Morris, John Eric Parker, Herman Payne, Ryan Rankine, Levensky Smith, Ephraim Sykes, Adrienne Warren, Daniel J. Watts, Juson Williams and Will Wingfield.
The Wiz, the 1974 rock and soul musical based on the beloved L. Frank Baum story about Dorothy and her adventures in Oz, will be directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, with music direction by Alex Lacamoire, (the team responsible for the Tony-winning In the Heights) with sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Acme Sound Partners. A June 18th opening is planned.
The Wiz has a book by William F. Brown, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and orchestrations by Harold Wheeler. The original production was directed by Geoffrey Holder and choreographed by George Faison. It won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Choreography.
The Wiz is an adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, told from the African-American perspective. The original Broadway production of The Wiz opened at the Majestic Theatre on January 5, 1975, and moved to the Broadway Theater on May 25, 1977, running for over four years for a total of 1,672 performances.
Ashanti (Dorothy) burst onto the music scene with her 2002 self-titled debut album, Ashanti. The album landed at the #1 spot on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B Album charts and won the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Simultaneously, Ashanti also secured the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and the R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart with her song, "Foolish." She made Billboard history by having her first three chart entries land in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time, becoming the first woman to accomplish this feat (which was previously attained only by the Beatles). Her follow-up album, Chapter II, debuted in the # 1 slot on the Billboard Album Chart and spawned two Top-10 singles. Ashanti's other albums include Ashanti's Christmas; Concrete Rose; a remix album titled Collectibles by Ashanti and The Declaration.
Since 1904, the Humane Society of New York has been a presence in New York City, reaching out to animals in need when illness, injury or homelessness strikes and often with no place else to go. Today its hospital, spay/neuter programs and Vladimir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center help 33,000 dogs and cats annually, and their numbers continue to grow. The cost of caring is high and, for the Society, help is made possible entirely by its own fund raising efforts, including the charitable gifts of people who value, and choose to support its mission. Humane Society of New York, 306 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022 (212) 752-4842 www.humanesocietyny.org
Encores! Summer Stars, (Jack Viertel, Artistic Director) now in its third season, is an expanded version of City Center's acclaimed Encores! series. Summer Stars is dedicated to presenting Broadway classics in limited-run productions. The previous Encores! Summer Stars presentations were the critically-acclaimed productions of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone and Damn Yankees starring Sean Hayes and Jane Krakowski.
New York City Center (Arlene Shuler, President and CEO) has long been known and beloved by New York audiences not only as one of the City's preeminent performing arts institutions but also as an accessible and welcoming venue for dance and theater. New York City Center produces the Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series, and is home to some of the country's leading dance companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Paul Taylor Dance Company and Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, as well as Manhattan Theatre Club, one of New York's leading theater companies. In 2004 New York City Center launched the acclaimed Fall for Dance Festival, continuing to fulfill its mission to make the arts accessible to the broadest possible audience. In 2006, New York City Center formed partnerships with London's Sadler's Wells Theatre to facilitate the exchange of innovative dance works, and with Carnegie Hall to work together on exciting new programming initiatives between the two neighboring institutions.
The Wiz will run June 12 - July 5.Tickets range from $25 - $110 and are available at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), through CityTix® at 212-581-1212, or online at www.nycitycenter.org.
THE WIZ PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: Monday and Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm; Wednesday - Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm (note: Opening night, June 18 curtain is at 6:30pm; No performances on July 3 and 4); and Wednesday matinees at 2:00 pm. There will be Saturday matinees on June 20 and 27. Closing performance is on Sunday, July 5 at 7:00 pm
Photos by John Spellman/Retna Ltd.
THE WIZ's Ashanti Hosts THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME Adoption Day, at City Center
Ashanti and Nigel who stars as Toto in THE WIZ
Ashanti and Nigel
Ashanti meets the fans!