Production of ‘The Wiz’, Bewitching


Photo by Elise Palmer

Story by Cole Johnson, Staff Writer

With a whirlwind of publicity, East Meck presented The Wiz the musical on Feb 23-25, and it swept everyone off their feet!
The bar was set high by last year’s Footloose, which was the first musical East Meck had in 21 years. The Wiz had a lot to prove this year and it did so with flying colors.

The plot of the musical follows Dorothy (Harlym Pike) trying to return to Kansas after being swept away by a tornado into the land of Oz. In order for her to return, she sets out on a journey to see the Wiz (Timothy Reece) to see if he could help her get home.

On her journey to the Wiz, she meets a Scarecrow (Jackson Santander), a Tinman (TJ Elliott) and a Cowardly Lion (JT Faucette) who all become a great group of friends and seek out the Wiz for help.

Watching all the performers on stage made Oz seem like it was real. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tinman had great chemistry. The actors had impeccable timing with their lines and the quick one-liners added comedy.

As Dorothy and her friends continued on their journey, they bumped into many interesting characters, ranging from Addaperle (Julianna Kantor) to the sassy Gate Keeper (Lucia Wallace). The actors played their parts well showing their skill without stealing the show.

There was one character that stole the show, as well as everybody’s hearts, and she never said a word. It was Belle MacLeod, director Bernadette MacLeod’s dog, who played Toto the dog.

The sets were well-made and the swiftness of the stage crew moving the set pieces back and forth was impressive.
The first set started off with a house and Aunt Em (Julia Pharr) putting wet clothes on a clothesline to dry, conveying the sense of the wide open country of Kansas.

In Oz, the Emerald City looked outstanding with its green colors and steampunk feel. First, one could see the main gate, which is twice as big as most of the cast. After that, you see the throne room of the Wiz, with the huge wizard head behind the throne stealing, all the attention. It was a pleasant surprise to see a few performers act as the scenery for scenes like the tornado and the Yellow Brick Road.

The costumes were very diverse, ranging from Dorothy in a nice simple white shirt and purple skirt, to Glinda’s (Mary Fuller) long golden dress, to the Emerald City citizens’ green outfits and the orange shirts, golden masks and black pants of the Winkies.

Despite a few technical issues with the sound, the performers could easily be heard. When the Wiz walked out onto the stage he dominated the room and held the audience’s attention with his booming voice. The pit played very well together which enhanced the mood of the musical and the performers’ voices.

The choreography was perfectly timed during the show, especially with the Tinman’s entrance song where he bounced to the beat and every time the Yellow Brick Road performed.

Last but not least, the lighting is worth noting. It helped convey the mood for the stimulating parts of the show. When Dorothy was caught in the tornado, the lights faded just enough to show Dorothy in the storm presenting a feeling of urgency. Additionally, the scene where Evilline (Emely Barahona) is introduced is enhanced by the spotlight shining on her, showing just how cruel she could be.

All in all, the production was very well done. Kudos to Bernadette MacLeod (director), Kathryn Heinen (music director) and Chris Moreau (pit director) for putting on a fantastic musical.
As I ease on down the road, I look forward to next year’s musical.