Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Wiz"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"The Wiz"

Book by William F. Brown
Music & Lyrics by Charlie Smalls
Directed by Scott Gagnon
Musical Direction by Jason Whiting
Choreography by Jennifer Condon

Producer Darrick Jackson
Costume Design by Jennifer Condon
Set Design by David DaCosta
Lighting Design by Heidi Hinkel
Sound Design by Heidi Hinkel
Makeup by Dan Gravely, Atia DeRosa
Stage Managers Monica Bruno, Lori Manzelli

Auntie Em.....................Jaime Steinbach Huberman
Toto................................................................Thea
Dorothy........................................Sarah Consentino
Uncle Henry/Gatekeeper/Messenger......Ray O'Hare
Adaperle........................................Dawn Mikulastik
Scarecrow.................................................Joe Breen
Tinman................................Marlon Dashawn Smith
Lion...................................................Greg Hildreth
The Wiz.............................................Bill Allsbrook
Evilene...........................................Kristen Kovolski
Lord High Underling.......................Darrick Jackson
Glinda................................................Stacy Sommer

Munchkins
Kristen Smith, Sarah Farley, Stephen Markarian

Ensemble
Sara Berg, Michelle Estrada, Julie Fuller, Margaret Healy,Francisca Hernandez, Jennifer Koh, Jennifer Markham, James Martin, Mixchelle Philbrook

"The Wizard of Oz" it ain't, but without that classic film to refer to and to bounce from, the Music & Lyrics of Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown's Book for "The Wiz" would have nowhere to go. It's not their creation, but the work of Director Scott Gagnon, Music Director Jason Whiting, and in particular of Choreographer Jennifer Condon and their cast that make this Boston Theater Bridge production interesting.

Apparently this bare-bones recreation was designed to let a cast of famous performers showboat their way through what often looks like a parody of the movie. On the high Riverside Theatre stage in Hyde Park the three Munchkins --- Kristen Smith, Sarah Farley, and Stephen Markarian --- would steal the show with their antics if the others weren't working so hard to be faithful to their roles. Here Joe Breen's Scarecrow literally hasn't a single bone in his flexible body, while Marlon Dashawn Smith as the Tinman is all stiff and sticky with rust. Greg Hildreth hides behind his own tail as the Lion while Bill Allsbrook turns The Wiz into the ultimate carnival pitchman.

The three witches are all studies in frustration: the good ones --- Dawn Mikulastik's Adaperle and Stacy Sommer's Glinda --- are frustrated by their own lackluster magic, while it's Kristen Kovalski's major job first to bluster as Evilene and then, traditionally, to melt.

In a sense, Sarah Consentino's Dorothy is everywhere yet nowhere in this odd story. Whirled away from home, she spends her time in Oz as a kind of amazed second-banana to everyone --- teaching Scarecrow to stand and Tinman to strut, easin' on down the road with them and the Lion, running from ruthless Evilene, being astonished at The Wiz. She's everywhere, she's everywhere yet always helping others into the spotlight.

As I say, it's not the material they have to work with but the work they bring to it that makes this first production by the Boston Theater Bridge come alive.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Wiz" (till 25 August)
BOSTON THEATER BRIDGE
Riverside Theater Works, HYDE PARK, MA
1 (617) 983-1818


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