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, Sept. 26-Nov. 26 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.
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.
"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.
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."
On board to create the new land of Oz are Robert Brill (set), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights), Peter Fitzgerald (sound) and Michael Clark (projections). Sergio Trujillo — who teamed with McAnuff on Jersey Boys — provides choreography. 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 before heading to Broadway, and The Wiz is expected to follow that path.)
The new season at La Jolla began with the musical Zhivago (May 9-June 25) and continues with Mother Courage (June 20-July 23), all wear bowlers (Aug. 1-Sept. 3) and Zorro In Hell (Sept. 30-Oct. 29) prior to The Wiz (Sept. 26-Nov. 26). The Page To Stage workshop production of Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention will close out the season (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.