La Jolla artistic director Des McAnuff directs the "re-imagining" of the Charlie Smalls William F. Brown musical The Wiz — slated to open Oct. 8 —as part of his company's new season which also features The Farnsworth Invention, the latest stagework from A Few Good Men and "The West Wing" scribe Aaron Sorkin and the world premieres of the musical Zhivago and Zorro in Hell.
"The Wiz has been a dream of mine for some time. I cannot wait to engage the minds of some of America's premiere theatre artists in re-imagining a modern Oz," said director Des McAnuff.
Based on L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," the urban take on the classic Dorothy tale features a Charlie Smalls score and William F. Brown's book with orchestrations by Harold Wheeler — who will be part of the production process.
A release from the company labels the new staging as a "re-imagining" in lieu of the term "revival." McAnuff previously stated, "Our production will reflect the shifts that have occurred in the dominant pop culture, in both music and theatre, since The Wiz's history-making Broadway debut in the 1970s. This is modern Oz, with a modern look and modern sounds."
News about the forthcoming production broke in April 2003 and was expected to reach Broadway in spring 2004 but never came to fruition. Now, following McAnuff stagings of Dracula, the Musical, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays and Jersey Boys, the work will see the stage. (All three of those works first appeared at La Jolla.) The 2006-2007 lineup (subject to change) is as follows:
The Farnsworth Invention (Feb. 13-March 18, 2007) Subscriptions for the 2006-07 season at La Jolla Playhouse, on the corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, CA are currently on sale. For more information on the company, visit www.lajollaplayhouse.com.