See 'Em On Stage and Delgado Present THE WIZ

See 'Em On Stage and Delgado Present THE WIZThe Wiz: The Super Soul Musical is a musical with lyrics and music by Charlie Smalls (and others) and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's classic 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the context of modern African-American culture. A big-budget movie adaptation (which has gone on to achieve cult status) was released in 1978 starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. A live television production, The Wiz, Live! was broadcast on NBC in 2015 to high ratings and critical acclaim.

This production will run March 9-25, Fridays and Saturdays (8pm), Sundays (3pm) at the Timothy K. Baker Theatre, Delgado City Park Campus, 615 City Park Avenue, Building 1, 1st Floor.

The show is directed by Christopher Bentivegna (Big Easy Entertainment Awards Theatre Person of the Year for 2016) and choreographed by Clayton Shelvin who brings a wealth of experience as a choreographer, teacher, and director to the project. Robert Pate, who has music directed several local recent productions, is the music director. Award-winning designer Sara Bandurian has designed the costumes. James Means is the set designer. Tom Dawson is the lighting designer/technical director. Christian Warren is the stage manager. Michael Santos is the production manager. Additional Delgado students and staff have contributed to many more roles within the production team.

This is the second collaboration for director Bentivegna, choreographer Shelvin, and costume designer Bandurian after their 2016 production of Lizzie, a rock musical based on the real-life legend of Lizzie Borden. Lizzie played to sold-out audiences and critical acclaim in August 2016 and went on to win five Big Easy Entertainment Theatre Awards at last year's ceremony including Best Musical, Best Director, and Best Costume Design. Robert Pate joins the team for this production leading his band Robert Pate and the Rascals.

This collaboration between See 'Em On Stage and Delgado combines the talents of veteran theater professionals with young actors, singers, and dancers in a cast of 24. This is the second time in two years that Delgado has partnered with an outside professional theatre company starting with their 2017 production of A Few Good Men with The NOLA Project. Michael Santos, department theatre chair at Delgado says, "As a former independent theater producer, I have always had a special place in my heart for smaller theater companies who don't have their own theater space and are forced to be nomadic with their venues."

Bentivegna, artistic director for See 'Em On Stage and director of The Wiz said, "The Wiz is a musical we have wanted to do for years but we knew, as a very small company, that we did not have the resources to pull off such a large-scale production with such a big cast. When Michael Santos came to us with the idea of a collaboration, we jumped at it immediately. We knew it was the perfect project to work on with Delgado Community College students because the show needs a youthful and exuberant young cast and they have a wonderful pool of talented students to pull from. It has been very rewarding to watch the experience that these students have had working with many veteran local professional actors. Working alongside seasoned actors allowed every rehearsal to become a master class for the students. We were also thrilled that the project attracted college students from other schools such as Dillard and Loyola."

Known more for their smaller blood-splatter musicals and plays such as Evil Dead: The Musical, Toxic Avenger: The Musical, and their recent production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, this production of The Wiz is a departure for See 'Em On Stage. "This is much larger and more family friendly than most of the shows we produce", said Bentivegna, "but it still has its roots in pop culture which is something that See 'Em On Stage embraces. And the songs are some of the best in musical theater and really allow our amazing performers to shine. The musical deals with important themes focusing on a young woman's discovery of who she is, overcoming adversity, the importance of a strong and supportive community, and finding strength within yourself even in your darkest moments."

Santos said, "Our department's founder, the late Tim Baker, loved directing musicals and made them a staple of our program for many years. So we wanted to produce The Wiz to honor that part of our history. It has great music, a large cast, but most importantly is an important piece of American theatre that celebrates diversity and opportunity." The production will be the first musical to be produced in Delgado's new theatre which has been named after the late director. This is bittersweet for Bentivegna who worked with Mr. Baker on two previous projects. Bentivegna explained, "The first show that I was cast in as an actor after moving to New Orleans was Delgado's production of Urinetown: The Musical, directed by Tim. And my last production as a performer, before creating See 'Em On Stage, was Delgado's production of The Rocky Horror Show, also directed by Tim. Having worked with Tim, and knowing how much he loved musicals and how much he wanted to produce them in this amazing new venue has filled me with even greater desire and responsibility to create a production that I know he would have been proud of." THE WIZ stars Charis Gullage (Dorothy), Rahim Glaspy (The WIz), Jon Elliott (Scarecrow), Dominique McClellan (Tin Man), Eddie Smith (Lion), Jennifer Bullock (Aunt Em), Whitney Mixon (Evillene), Kathleen Moore (Addaperle), and Destani Smith (Glinda).

Chu Bu, Hannah Chatman, Samantha Croon, Mekhi R. Hayes, Sydney Jahne' Jack, Roy H. James, Victoria Jene', Jocilyn Johnson, Corinthius Matthews, Sterling Miller, Miles Pagson, Keemon Payton, Phillip Reed Jr., Elvin Stewart, and Takia Tropez all play multiple roles. or for tickets. Student tickets (with ID) are $15. General admission tickets are $23. Special reserved seating VIP tickets are $28. Please call 504-671-6616 for more information.

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