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Westfield The Wiz

By • Dec 3rd, 2007 • Category: Cappies

In a far away land, far away meaning Westfield High School, a surreal adventure unfolds, where munchkins, witches, and talking crows roam. This is the Land of Oz, as portrayed in Westfield’s production of The Wiz, a contemporary take on the classic Wizard of Oz tale. The play was written by William F. Brown and features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. A well-renowned musical garnering seven Tony awards, it was recently tackled by Westfield with eye-popping results.

The first extremely noticeable aspect of the show was the various colors of the sets and costumes. At first, when the heroine, Dorothy (Martina Green) was shown in her unhappy state, the color is dull and gray, but when a storm carried her to the magical Land of Oz, the colors became vivid. The set, lighting, and costumes all began to show beautiful contrasts.

The colors, however, did not distract to the extent that the prowess of the performers was nullified. Dorothy and the many characters she met on her adventure in Oz showed dancing, singing, and acting skills that were well above average. Dorothy herself, played by Martina Green, had an incredible voice, showcased especially by the finale song “Home,” seemingly perfect for her range. Another wonderful voice was present in the title character, played by Garrett Henson. Henson’s Wiz also had some well-played quirkiness.

Dorothy’s newfound friends also were wonderful performers. Russell Wagoner paired clumsy body movements and sweet, fluid vocals in his portrayal of Scarecrow. His wonderful voice made it a shame that he hadn’t had more chances to use it. Chris Wildy was hilarious as Tin Man, whose robotic dance moves were a treat to watch. Cody Jones played a solid and sympathetic Lion, just aching for some courage.

Jade Jones brought down the house with her voice. It commanded attention, as did her deft acting turns. She portrayed both Aunt Em and Evillene incredibly and beautifully, and her singing was a show highlight. Other standout performances included Leslie Roth‘s talented Evvamene, who was able to characterize silently using her powerful and skillful dancing. She danced almost cryptically, emanating chaos and evil.

A highlight of the ensemble performances were the Crows (Jonathan Goldsmith, Jeremy Rommel, Taylor Aucott, and Nick Cirillo), who showed great chemistry and movement. All of the members of the many different ensemble were engaged in the performance, although sometimes they distracted from the main plot. While some moments of the show seemed too chaotic and unstable, in which lines and actions were lost to the audience, the energy of the show carried it forward.

While lighting was distracting at some times, it was beautifully displayed at others. The orchestra also played their parts with amazing skill, helping to set a dreamlike tone. The Wiz is a wonderful musical, and Westfield’s cast and crew really pulled off an admirable performance. There should be “No Bad News” for them.

by Josh Simon of Winston Churchill

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2 Responses »

  1. This production was the subject of the 20/20 episode that aired tonight (although it may be a repeat).

  2. Hi Dan, You’re right, I found several video clips of this on the ABC News web site at http://abcnews.go.com/2020/dramahigh