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The Wiz: Cappies Review

Review by Hailey Brunson, Rock Ridge High School  Photo by Mary Gache

Home is where you belong, the place that you can always return to. But every now and then you need to be reminded of that fact. Well, all it takes is a tornado, the courage to ease on down a yellow brick road, and a few friends to join you along the way. “The Wiz”, at Tuscarora High School, shared with us all the power of home and the magic of believing in yourself.

“The Wiz” is the soulful, musical, urbanized retelling of “The Wizard of Oz”.  “The Wiz” first opened in 1974 in Baltimore, Maryland, before making its move to Broadway. There, it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. More recently, it was made into a magical, live television event that showed on NBC, airing with high regards and critical acclaim. “The Wiz” has a history of success, and Tuscarora High School added to that legacy.

A picturesque friendship formed in front of our eyes as Dorothy journeyed through Oz. Dorothy, played by Kendall Guntner, took us on her wild adventure; we were able to feel the magic of every person she met as she shared her story with us. However, it was the brotherly bond between the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion that was moving to watch scene after scene. The Lion, played by Kyle Ebbets, brought a vitality and persona to stage that brightened up the entire cast.  Ebbets displayed a delightful energy that was both endearing and comedic.  Ebbets’ physical character choices along with the choices of the Tin Man, played by Freddy Sane-aka, and the Scarecrow, played by Brandon Ballard, made lively characters with beautiful lessons to learn. But, perhaps the liveliest of all was the Wiz, played by James Smith. Smith brought a depth to the Wiz that was compelling. He also was a catalyst to the energy on stage. His standout song was “Y’all Got It”, and he did.

The featured roles and ensembles also had something special. The three witches in the show played by Ijsah Byrd, Natalie Ah Nee, and Julianne Sager, all had magical voices and characters as big and bright as the world of Oz. The most captivating group were the Poppies. These mystical flowers never sang a single word but I felt every intention. They were in sync as an ensemble and powerful in their dancing. Seductive and charming all at once, the Poppies were the standout of all the wonderful ensembles.

As we entered the Land of Oz the technical aspects of the production brought the dreamlike land to life. The costumes were vibrant and perfectly reflected every characters personality. The costumes also helped tell that story as ensemble after ensemble a new adventured unfolded. The lighting helped to create moods and depth within the production, with a disco ball being the perfect addition to the happy ending.

As Dorothy returned home and everyone was given the chance at happiness, the curtains closed on a transformative journey. Tuscarora High School gave an infectious performance of “The Wiz”, one that made us all love home just a little bit more.

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