Soul supercharge

You'll recognize all your favorite characters: Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion plus the full complement of witches and munchkins. But in this version of Frank Baum’s tale, the Wizard's fabulous Land of Oz rocks with R&B ballads, raunchy funk, roof-raising gospel, and buoyant anthems. Of course, it's The Wiz, the 1970s Broadway hit that translates the Hollywood classic into a modernized urban rendition of the play with an all-black cast.

You've likely seen the 1978 movie starring some of the hottest singers in modern music history: Diana Ross in the role of Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, and Lena Horne as Glinda, the Good Witch. Or you may even recall that the show won seven Tony Awards (for best musical and best score among others) when it played on Broadway. But, even if you know nothing about the play, you will be in for a treat if you reserve a seat for this show. 

"The Wiz helped open the doors for popular culture to explore the richness, pain, and possibilities of black experience," says Ronda Hewitt, general manager at Live Arts. "In all its kitsch, the show grabs a handful of every black musical style and uses each song to supercharge the heart and soul of a story you thought you knew." 

And Clinton Johnston, the artistic director of the show, promises an unforgettable no-holds-barred version of the play. The cast of nearly 20 has been rehearsing for more than two months, and the hype is running high. "Come out for a night of musical exuberance," Johnston says.

Click your ruby slippers, and fly to East Market Street. In no time you're likely to be tapping, snapping, and clapping right along with the cast of The Wiz.    


The Wiz plays March 8-23 on the main stage at Live Arts, then  whisks over to the Dickinson Theater at Piedmont Virginia Community College for a run from March 27-30. 609 E. Market St 8pm most evenings.  $12-$15. 977-4177 x108.


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