BWW Review: Ease On Down the Road to See THE WIZ at Broadway at Music Circus!
Wizard of Oz lovers can rejoice, for The Wiz has arrived! Take the original, add soul and catchy dance numbers, pepper it with one-liners, and you have a version that makes the whole family happy. The Wiz was created to give a voice to the urban African-American and the song styles reflect that with nods to R&B, gospel, and jazz. The effort was so successful that, in its opening year, it won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Essentially, the story line is the same. Dorothy gets caught in a tornado, lands on a witch, and is guided towards Oz by well-meaning Munchkins. Along the way she picks up a trio of friends-Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion. She gets to Oz, meets the Wizard, kills the other Wicked Witch, and goes home. What's different is the music, vibe, and snappy dialogue. The Wizard went to Motown and brought back his best and brightest to breathe new life into Oz.
Indeed, the cast here is something to celebrate. Adrianna Hicks is a sweetly naive Dorothy who perfectly ties up the show in the closing number, "Home." Her friends are even more impressive. Phillip Boykin's Lion sounds exactly as you would wish him to. A giant voice for the king of the beasts, and some may remember that voice as Jim from Big River a few seasons ago. James T. Lane shines (literally) as Tinman in his Broadway at Music Circus debut. His aptitude for physical comedy matches his singing, and "Slide Some Oil to Me" is one of the most entertaining numbers of the evening. Not surprisingly, the humble Scarecrow is the one who steals our hearts. His rousing "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday" kicks off the energy of the show and is immediately followed by the song we all know and love, "Ease on Down the Road."
This talent is backed up by an ensemble that exudes the 70s aura in numbers that showcase gorgeous, glittering costumes, many of which were used in the live TV version of The Wiz. "Poppies Ballet" and "Emerald City Ballet" are two that, despite their names, everyone will love. The choreography by Gerry McIntyre needs to be mentioned. It was diverse and thrilling-particularly when Michael Jackson's moves were incorporated into Scarecrow's song, "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday." (Jackson played Scarecrow in the movie version) This show is a visual feast of color, shine, and movement. You'll be dancing in your seats, howling with laughter, and singing the songs long after the night has ended.
Tickets for The Wiz start at $45 and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at BroadwaySacramento.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento. Specially priced tickets for kids ages 4-12 start at $40. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 6-10, at 7:30 p.m.; matiness performances are Thursday, Aug. 8 and Saturday, Aug. 10 at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 11 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, visit BroadwaySacramento.com.
Photo credit: Kevin Graft