Mount Vernon High School The WizBy Cappies • Jun 4th, 2013 • Category: Cappies
Winkies, whimsy, and many a wild antic! Welcome to the world of The Wiz, created by the cast and crew of Mount Vernon High School.
Based off L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic “The Wizard of Oz,” The Wiz tells the same (abridged) story, but with an African-American cultural influence. Thus, the story of a young girl from Kansas on a quest to meet a majestic wizard, meeting a ragtag group of friends along the way, holds true but the characters all simply hold more soulful notes and rhythms! The Wiz was originally produced in 1974, with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, at the height of the disco era. The charming urban show became a hit, winning seven Tony’s and five Drama Desks.
Even today, The Wiz remains an audience favorite, as Mount Vernon proved this weekend. From colorful dynamic lighting to exuberant acting (from humans and animals alike), the production was entertaining for audiences of all ages.
Courtney Kramer as Dorothy was convincingly naïve and sweet as a child herself, with tender facial expressions and a soprano lilt that consistently managed challenging riffs. Matching her believability was Bryan Azucena as the Scarecrow, who hilariously maintained “boneless” physicality throughout the whole show, and with an enjoyable strong tenor voice to boot. The charming Tin Man (Logan Beveridge) and adorable Lion (Justin Atkinson) evened out the Four Friends, complementing them with Beveridge’s impressive falsetto and Atkinson’s humorous quivering and false bravado and that’s before they reached the Emerald City!
Upon reaching their destination, even more surprises were in store. The Wiz, played by Gerald Halstead, with a thundering voice and exaggerated gestures proved exactly why the Emerald City was his. He conjured up a nice touch of realism to such a magical world, especially in his later downfall. Accompanying his grandeur was the far-reaching energy of the ensemble, especially the Winged Monkeys, which gave attitude alongside in-synch acrobatics.
As if The Wiz couldn’t get any more wacky, many of the characters were even further developed by the intense creativity of the tech crew. The precise lighting, designed by Alex Kellogg and Nahki Oliver, helped set the tone and place for each scene, from the shadowy spots and blinking house lights during the tornado to the jewel-like greens and oranges projected onto the ceiling in the Emerald City. The impressively timed echo sound effects, given by Cody Binstock and Jackson Skidmore, especially made the Wiz all the more terrifying.
However, powerful and persuasive as he may seem, with constant energy and optimism, Mount Vernon’s production of The Wiz proved that nothing can beat the power of true friendship or the chemistry of a close cast.
by Rachel Price of Woodbridge Senior High School
Photos by Kara Kramer
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9542.