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Paulanne Simmons

Go Off to See The Wiz

The Wiz
Directed by Schele Williams
Marquis Theatre
210 West 46 Street
Opened April 17, 2024
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons March 19, 2024

Wayne Brady as The Wiz. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Whether you’re a fan of the original 1939 film or the original 1975 Broadway musical, you’ll most probably enjoy the new revival of William F Brown (book) and Charlie Smalls’ (music and lyrics) The Wiz, directed by Schele Williams.

The original musical was subtitled The Super Soul Musical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” And the revival has all those great songs sung by a cast powered by Wayne Brady as The Wiz, Kyle Ramar Feeman as Lion and Broadway newcomers Michelle Lewis as Dorothy, Avery Wilson as Scarecrow, Phillip Johnson Richardson as Tinman, and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Deborah Cox as Glinda the good witch. Their voices are tremendous, and they’re backed by a large and capable ensemble.

JaQuel Knight, who became famous at 18 for choreographing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” has updated the show with dance numbers that combine ballet, hip-hop and African moves. And comedy writer Amber Ruffin has updated the book with lots of laugh lines that make the characters clever as well as sincere. This means that even the most cynical amongst us can enjoy the show.

But it’s the design elements that really dominate this revival. Hannah Beachler’s sets, Shaker Davis’s costumes and Ryan J. O’Gara’s lighting all give the show a colorful pizzazz.

The most famous song from the show is arguably “Ease on Down the Road,” but no one eases on down anything in this revival. In fact The Wiz never slows down. We have no time to worry much about what will happen to the Tinman, the Lion, the Scarecrow or even Dorothy. We’re too busy watching the dancers (the second act opens with a long dance sequence set in an Oz club) or the costumes or the lights illuminating fantastical sets.

So if you’re ready for a really good time put on your magic silver shoes and head on down the yellow brick road to the Marquis Theatre.

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