Children's Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre Bring THE WIZ to Life

Children's Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre Bring THE WIZ to Life

Children's Theatre Company (CTC) in partnership with Penumbra Theatre will present The Wiz, adapted from L. Frank Baum's classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; directed by Lou Bellamy, Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Penumbra Theatre Company, assistant directed and choreographed by Patdro Harris (Broadway credits as Choreographer for A Raisin in the Sun), with music direction by Sanford Moore (Musical Director at Penumbra Theatre). The extraordinary cast includes Paris Bennett (American Idol top five finalist 2006) as Dorothy, Dennis Spears (Ivey Award for Excellence in Acting, Member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame) as Tinman, CTC's Performing Apprentice Dwight Leslieas Scarecrow, Aimee Bryant (CTC's Akeelah and the Bee) as Addaperle, T. Mychael Rambo (Guthrie Theatre, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood) as The Wiz, Rudolph Searles III (Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, Park Square Theatre) as Lion, Greta Oglesby (Guthrie Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, and more) as Aunt Em/Evillene, and Jamecia Bennett (Guthrie Theatre, Lab Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Capri Theatre) will take the stage as Glinda/Crow/Ensemble.

The production also includes scenic design by Vicki Smith (Bay Area Critics Award, Drama-Logue Award, Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award, Denver Critics Award), costume design by Mathew LeFebvre (Guthrie, Signature Theatre, Minnesota Opera and others), lighting design by Don Darnutzer (Broadway credits as Lighting Designer for It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues) and sound design by Sten Severson (CTC, Broadway, West End, Off-Broadway, Public Theatre (Audelco Award).

"My concept for our production is rooted deeply in African American history & custom," stated Director Lou Bellamy. "Dorothy's journey from (in our production) Nicodemus, Kansas to the Wiz's palace in Harlem, pays homage to the Great Migration made during Reconstruction by thousands of African Americans from rural environs to urban living."

Children's Theatre and Penumbra Theatre are excited to embark upon an historic partnership that will bring Minnesota audiences the best of what both companies offer. Long heralded as the leading theatre for young audiences in the country, CTC creates artistically excellent, sophisticated theatre for multigenerational audiences, while Penumbra Theatre, the leading African American theatre company in the nation, produces artistically excellent, socially responsible drama depicting authentic representations of black life and culture. Both companies bring a passion for advocacy for their often underserved audiences, and have pioneered educational programming that innovates within the field - CTC's critical literacy work and Penumbra's racial justice work will allow these two treasured companies to forge something together that neither could do alone. Leadership at both organizations is committed to forging a deep and equitable partnership that will indelibly impact both for the better.

"It is a great thrill and honor to partner with Penumbra Theatre," stated CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius. "They are a major force in the national theatre world as well as a local treasure. The insights and experience they bring to this partnership have been extraordinary and we look forward to continuing to find ways to work together."

"This relationship isn't transactional," stated Penumbra Theatre Artistic Director Sarah Bellamy. "We are getting to a space of depth and real honesty with each other in terms of our conversations about equity, what our aesthetics are, how we can create a proactive, equitable, shared learning environment and that feels very unique."

Ease on down the road with Dorothy and her friends with a dazzling mixture of rock, gospel and soul music. Embark on this Oz-some adventure through a magic land where you will meet funky monkeys, winkies, Addaperle and Evillene. You don't need a wizard-just believe in yourself to find home and feel that brand-new day.

The Wiz, produced by Children's Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre opens January 23 and runs through March 18, 2018 on the UnitedHealth Group Stage and is recommended for all ages. Individual show tickets and subscriptions can be purchased at childrenstheatre.org or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400. This production is proudly sponsored by Deluxe and Thomson Reuters.

Children's Theatre Company (CTC) is the nation's largest and most acclaimed theatre for multigenerational audiences. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire nearly 275,000 people annually. CTC is the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre and is the only theatre in Minnesota to receive three Tony® nominations (for its production of A Year with Frog and Toad). CTC is committed to producing world class productions at the highest level and to developing new works, more than 200 to date, dramatically changing the canon of work for young audiences.

Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African American voices in the Twin Cities theatre community. Penumbra has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Today, Penumbra Theatre is Minnesota's only professional African American theatre, and is one of only three professional African American theatres in the nation that offer a full season of performances.

PHOTO Top L-R: Aimee Bryant, Jamecia Bennett, Greta Oglesby, Bottom L-R: Dennis Spears, Paris Bennett, Rudolph 'Tre' Searles III

Photo by Dan Norman

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