Procenium Theatre Company’s “The Wiz – A Tribute to Geoffrey Holder”

The WIZ is an adaption of the classic “The Wizard of Oz” story. It was first performed on stage in 1975 with Geoffrey Holder (to whom Proscenium had dedicated these performances) as its director. The original play won seven Tony Awards, including the coveted ‘Best Musical’ award. This is a fun, light, carefree family show which contains beautiful, soulful music.

Before I go on I must say, members of the cast, along with patrons who attended other viewings of the show informed me that I attended on Disaster Night (Friday 07th November) and so this review has taken that into account.

Director Mervyn de Goeas added some small but effective touches into the script, which increased the audience’s interest and overall experience. His inclusion of local and modern references/music were well placed and well received.

The actors and casting for the show was excellent. Tishanna Williams’ performance was commendable and quite convincing as Dorothy, though I have spoken to quite a few people who thought she overacted the sweet innocence of the character. Her performance was, quite simply, stellar. Kevin Humphrey had the audience laughing with his portrayal of the cowardly Lion and Candice Alcantara as Addaperle (The God Witch of the North) also delivered a noteworthy performance. Even the extras shone, the attitude-filled crows, sultry poppies, the energetic yellow brick road, enthusiastic munchkins and the crack head citizens, all added greatly to enhance the show.

Maurice Morancie, Tishanna Williams, Kevin Humphrey, Candice Alcantara and Diahann White (the Tin Man; Dorothy; Lion; the Good Witch of the North and Aunty Em) gave some trilling vocal performances. Unfortunately, Jeannine Clarke (Evilene) was hoarse on the night. This was a grave disappointment as her one song (No Bad News) was the one I looked forward to the most. Aurora Tardieu was, vocally, a disappointment. She managed to make Ease On Down The Road (a song which went on to be its own single and make it on the Billboard Hot 100 chart) into a forgettable, ear-assaulting bore while her rendition of Believe in Yourself was unimpressive. But I need to say, Maurice Morancie – The Tin Man, his voice was so….sexy is the only word that comes to mind.

The Yellow Brick Road, which was portrayed by a team of four dancers, had its effect lost due to the lack of supporting effects. The set design and the flying monkey, which wasn’t given the kind of enhancement it needed, were HUGE disappointments for this production. There was some set malfunction on the night which caused a slight interruption to the proceedings, however the audience was understanding. The stage had too much open empty space and the minimal props used failed to add to what should have been the glamor of the city of Oz. The set and effects was only truly enhanced by the lighting and wonderful makeup and costuming.

The already lively sound of the production was enhanced with the addition of modern musical beats. The band did a quality job of enhancing the show without overpowering the vocals. Proscenium’s production of the musical was extremely well done. Mistakes do happen, did happen, but the show must go on and go on it did, much to the delight of the patrons. Overall I would give this play a 3 / 5. This was one for the kids, a great family show.

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