About Last Night. . . .The Wonderful Wiz of Oz

Special Features   About Last Night. . . .The Wonderful Wiz of Oz
Last night, I (I'll spare you the never funny but often-used "ease on down" reference) went to the City Center Encores! Summer Stars production of The Wiz.
The Wiz stars Ashanti, Nigel and LaChanze
The Wiz stars Ashanti, Nigel and LaChanze Photo by Robert J. Saferstein

I never saw the original, as I was just a sparkle in my mama's eye when the show first stormed Broadway in 1975, or its ill-fated revival in the mid-80s. I did, however, wear out my VHS copy of the movie. You can watch the original trailer here. It's a trip.

And so, I filed into a delightfully full theatre. I sat beside a couple who went on and on about the original Broadway production trying to name the entire original cast. It was when they got stuck on Hinton Battle that I offered up my "thingie" (as the lady called it) to Google it for them.

But the best part was the variety of people who came out to this wonderfully live and vivacious production. The house was scattered with kids, all of whom were so engrossed in the show that the chair kicking and crying that sometime accompanies little kids were noticeably absent.

The most delightful sight, however, was a group of five guys, who couldn't have been more than 20 years old, jamming along to the music and applauding like it was a Jay-Z concert. There were no girlfriends who dragged them there. No moms or younger sisters in tow. Just five guys…chillin' at the theatre. I am sure it was Grammy Award winner and mega R&B star Ashanti that got them there. However, I hope they loved their experience so much that they'll want to check out all that NYC theatre has to offer them. I felt like screaming… "See?! We're cool! We can hang!"

The brothers "Lacaailenbueler" — what I'm now calling the trifecta of talent that is Tommy Kail, Alex Lacamoire and Andy Blankenbuehler – did this classic justice and then some. The goosebump inducing vocals unleashed by Ashanti, Tichina Arnold, Dawnn Lewis, Joshua Henry and my girl, Tony Award winner and all-around superstar LaChanze, brought down the house number after number. It was a great night. Catch it while you still can because it's only playing until July 5!

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