By: Aug. 15, 2011

Maine State Music Theatre (MSMT) closes it's season with the Tony Award-winning musical, THE WIZ, playing August 10 - August 27 at the Pickard Theater in Brunswick. THE WIZ brings a mix of soul, rock and gospel music to Brunswick and a twist on L. Frank Baum's iconic story "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." MSMT alumni Donna Drake directs this production, with choreography by Mark Stuart, and starring multiple Broadway veterans: Gwen Stewart, LaQuet Sharnell, Eric B. Anthony, E. Clayton Cornelious, Nikkeili DeMone, Bobby Daye and Gayle Turner.

In THE WIZ, as in Baum's famous story, Dorothy, the little girl from Kansas, is blown by a tornado into the Land of Oz where she meets the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion, defeats the evil witch, and goes to see the powerful Wizard. MSMT presents THE WIZ as it was originally intended, with an all African American cast. THE WIZ is a universal story transformed into a multicultural experience, and an exciting show for all audiences. The themes of finding yourself and finding your way home are the powerful lessons learned from the story.

The winner of seven Tony Awards for it's 1975 Broadway opening, THE WIZ includes songs "Home," "Ease on Down the Road," "Believe in Yourself," and "Brand New Day." The musical was made into a movie in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, and attracted vast new audiences through that popular medium. The show also had a touring revival in 1984.

MSMT alumni director, Donna Drake (previous director of AIDA, HAIRSPRAY, ALL SHOOK UP, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and CHICAGO), directs this season closer, while choreographer Mark Stuart (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, GRAND HOTEL, SWING! and CATS) returns to Brunswick with his innovative and very athletic style of dance. Together, the duo promises to create a fresh new production with all the excitement, splash, and euphoria that audiences have come to expect of an MSMT high-spirited musical. Drake's productions are known to give equal weight to the music and dance, as well as giving the heart of the story a prominent place on the stage.

Maine State Music Theatre's production of THE WIZ is sponsored by Bath Savings Institution, Wright Express and Norton Insurance & Financial. MSMT's entire 2011 season is sponsored by The Highlands and Highland Green.

Tickets to see THE WIZ are on sale now. Interested parties can contact the MSMT box office at (207) 725-8769, visit the box office window in person at The Pickard Theater or purchase online at THE WIZ previews on August 10 and runs through August 27. Matinees are at 2 p.m. and evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. For specific dates and availability, please contact the box office or visit the website. The Pickard Theater is located at 1 Bath Road in Brunswick, on the campus of Bowdoin College.

MSMT has other August events to offer! Award-winning artist, Euan Morton, performs a concert event on August 15th at 7:30 p.m., and another children's musical is planned for August 22nd, a new interpretation of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST written by MSMT alumni Marc Robin and Curt Dale Clark.