Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ

Two-Time Tony Award nominee André De Shields, who created the title role of "The Wiz" in the original Broadway production (1975), caught the ENCORES! production of "The Wiz" last night and visited the members of the cast backstage.

The entire company was thrilled that "MR. WIZ" himself (as he is affectionately known) came to see them.

André is currently starring in the Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of "Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe" at the Harold Clurman Theatre (opens Thursday June 25) and runs through July 19. Immediately following this, De Shields will switch gears to portray Tiresias in The Public Theatre's production of Euripides' "The Bacchae" at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park August 11-30. Following this, De Shields will bring his solo work-in-progress, Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance to The Yard, over the Labor Day weekend, September 4, 5, 7. The Yard, located in Chilmark, on the island of Martha's Vineyard, is a well-known not-for-profit performing arts colony now in its 36th season on the Island. He performed Mine Eyes this past February in New York in celebration of Black History Month to a standing-room only audience. "In my performance, I explore the life and achievements of the Great Emancipator, Frederick Douglass. Douglass began his life as a slave, and through heroic efforts, became one of America's most important and historically influential African American leaders," De Shields says.

The Wiz, the 1974 rock and soul musical based on the beloved L. Frank Baum story about Dorothy and her adventures in Oz, is 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) sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Acme Sound Partners.

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.

In addition to Ashanti, Orlando Jones, Joshua Henry, James Monroe Iglehart, Christian Dante White, Tichina Arnold, Dawnn Lewis, and LaChanze, the cast includes Raymond Lamar Bennett, Tanya Birl, Darlesia Cearcy, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Angela Grovey, Ebony Haswell, Lauren Lim Jackson, Kevin-Anthony, Carl Lation, 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 William B. Wingfield.

The Wiz runs 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(r) 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 Merle Frimark

Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ
André De Shields and Orlando Jones

Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ
André De Shields and LaChanze

Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ
André De Shields and Adrienne Warren

Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ
James Monroe Iglehart, Christian Dante White, André De Shields and Joshua Henry

Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Visits THE WIZ
André De Shields and Ashanti

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