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Ease on down the road to check out “The Wiz” at the Westcoast Black Theatre Company through November 20, 2016. This timeless classic about Dorothy, a young woman searching for her way back home, is a tale of friendship, acceptance, and growing up. Dorothy, played with youthful exuberance by the radiant Khadijah Rolle, meets a cast of quirky characters on her journey. Rolle carries the show beautifully and is the moral compass at the center. As the cast swirls around her, she is the eye in the storm.
“The Wiz” is an updated version of the “Wizard of Oz” with a Motown beat. The cast did a tremendous job, particularly on some of the most famous numbers, including “Ease on Down the Road” and my favorite “Brand New Day.” When we finally meet Evillene, the evil queen, played by the indomitable Tarra Conner Jones, she brings down the house. She is the most fantastic evil witch - pitch perfect in every way from her Medusa-like headdress down to her toes that she demands her Lord High Underling kiss.
I would have liked to see a slightly higher production value; but I feel the production was much bigger than the house itself could contain. There were a number of creative techniques through choreography that helped carry the plot, including a dancing tornado and a smooth moving yellow brick road; and as usual the WBTT cast showcased their powerhouse voices to great effect.
Leon S. Pitts II, Khadijah Rolle, Joey James and E. Mani Cadet star in Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s production of ‘The Wiz.’ Photo by Don Daly Photo
“The Wiz” is a classic that everyone should have the chance to see. The WBTT, as usual, does a fantastic job bringing this important production to the Sarasota stage. To check it out go to www.westcoastblacktheatre.org.