The Wiz, playing at the Wyly Theater in the Dallas Arts District through Sunday, is a great opportunity to get your mind off of your troubles. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900, was adapted into a screenplay for a musical comedy in 1902, touring the country for ten years. The first film version came out in 1910, paving the way for the well-loved classic starring Judy Garland. The Wizard of Oz has been seen by more viewers than any other movie in history. In 1975, The Wiz , based on the classic well-loved story, hit the stage with an all black cast, which was very unusual at the time. The script was written using the style of that time period’s popular African-American music. The Wiz won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Score.
The Wiz presents the well known story from a different, humorous point of view, while still celebrating the importance of courage, friendship, home, and the magic of believing. The costumes were elegant, each and every one original and rich in detail. When experiencing the opening scene, it was obvious that this production was going to be something out of the ordinary. The legendary tornado was depicted by a group of dancers twirling and circling around the stage in dark, flowing capes. Two sections of the lower seating area were drawn into the movement, as they too literally twirled around the stage, landing in the back portion of the stage. (See a video explaining the movement of the seating here.) The Yellow Brick Road was suggested by a group of characters who carried various road signs, such as “This Way”, leading the way to the Emerald City. When the group found the great Wiz, and voiced their desires, as in the classic tale, they were sent to kill the wicked witch. When this was accomplished, of course they returned to collect. The Wiz granted the Scarecrow his wish for a brain – he opened a box of “All Brain”, and poured it into the Scarecrow’s head. The Tin Man received the heart he longed for in the form of a box of Valentine’s candy. I especially appreciated what the Cowardly Lion received in response to his request for courage – a shot of vodka, which did the trick!
All in all, this was a great performance, enjoyed by the young and old alike. The cast interacted with the audience, singing and dancing in and out of the aisles. The young ones in the audience were entranced, and the adults were amused and entertained by the enjoyable, uplifting culmination of the live band, the singing, the dancing, the comedy, and the whole visual experience.
The final performances of The Wiz are scheduled for Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm, in the Potter Rose Performance Hall at the Wyly Theater. Tickets are no longer available on-line, but you can contact the box office to get up-to-the-minute ticket availability information at 214-880-0202. There are normally some last minute subscriber cancellations. For directions to the venue, click here; for parking information, click here. For another transportation alternative, try the Art Cart (for more information, click here ), or the E-Frog. Be sure to be on time, since late admittance is not guaranteed. This is a 90 minute show, with no intermission.