Book: William F. Brown
Music and Lyrics: Charlie Smalls
Direction: Josette Bushell-Mingo
Reviewer: Tabitha McGrath
The Public Reviews Rating:
This family-friendly musical is a delight from the start. Glitter, wonder and spectacle grip the audience within seconds and provides high-quality entertainment through to the end with a familiar story line, fantastic cast and superb music.
This renovation of the classic Wizard of Oz began it’s life in the late sixties as the familiar story line was adapted to reflect the life of the contemporary African-American at the time. Soul music was introduced and a serious message flowed underneath the whimsical and magical characters. This production of The Wiz has been updated once again to show the young and typically-teenage Dorothy transported to the wonderful world of Oz where she must find The Wiz to finally get home, encountering wicked witches, haunted poppy fields, angry bouncers into Oz and makes some wonderful friends in the form on the Lion, the Tinman and the Scarecrow.
The music of this Summer-Pantomime is a credit to it’s creators tracking the history of Black Music from upset blues’ of the 1930‘s to the upbeat Motown and Soul of the 70s. The deliverance of the all the music is superb, the voices are incredible, the choreography is fun and there is just the right amount of diva for all to enjoy.
The 6 main cast are excellent. Clive Rowe’s depiction of the cowardly (yet glamourous) Lion is lovable and heartfelt whilst a single facial expression from Horace Oliver’s Tinman sends the children in a fit of laughter. Treyc Cohen’s portrayal of the spoilt Dorothy is only masked by her outstanding vocal solos and Wayne Robinson as the Scarecrow is friendly and heart-warming. The good witch Glinda (Allyson Ava-Brown) storms the show with her inspirational Believe in Yourself and her sister, Addaperle (Melanie La Barrie) provides hilarity and a touch of madness that all musicals need.
As well as their superb voices, credit goes to some fantastic American accents of the cast and personal touch of Dorothy coming from Birmingham also makes the evening more special. The costumes are colourful and playful, especially the Emerald City scenes where all the cast are decked in various shades of dazzling green and reflect the glamorous fifties style.
A clear sense of fun and enjoyment is spread throughout this show making it impossible for anyone not to enjoy this. It’s enthusiasm and joy is infectious and a must-see for it’s excellent musical performances.
Photo: Robert Day
The Wiz runs at the Alexandra until the 18th June 2011 – before moving to The West Yorkshire Playhouse in LeedsThe Wiz - The Birmingham Rep @ The New Alexandra, Birmingham,
Tags: Allyson Ava Brown, Birmingham REP, Clive Rowe, Horace Oliver, Josette Bushell-Mingo, Melanie La Barrie, The Alexandra, The Wiz, Treyc Cohen, Wayne Robinson, West Yorkshire Playhouse, William F. Brown