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"The Wiz" at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ind.

Darius Colquitt (left to right) as Scarecrow, Jesse Dean Stanford as Tinman, Adrianna Parson as Dorothy and James Earl Jones II as Lion meet Alexis J. Rogers as the colorful witch Addaperle in "The Wiz" playing through Aug. 7 at the Theatre at the Center in Munster.

Watching the new production of "The Wiz" at Theatre at the Center in Munster, with all of its flash, funny lines from funny characters and great music, the time passes quicker than the clicks of Dorothy's heels from the famed story.

 "The Wiz," which opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran for four years, provides a whole new spin, twister still included, on the 1939 legendary film favorite "The Wizard of Oz."

Running through Aug. 7, there's a star-stacked cast of big talents here in Northwest Indiana giving it everything they've got to take audiences to a world where witches come and go and shoes do a double duty service.

The Broadway hit musical "The Wiz," with book by William F. Brown and music by Charlie Smalls, isn't performed nearly enough.

I'm betting, like myself, many people likely haven't ever seen this story brought to stage.

It's more likely, most audiences are only familiar with the 1978 Motown/Universal film starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor.

Theatre at the Center is fortunate to not only have a talented cast, but also Stacey Flaster directing and choreographing.

Using a simple yet very effective staging effect with clever scenic design by Bill Bartelt, "The Wiz" features Adrianna Parson as Dorothy, the little girl who finds herself whisked away to an inner-city world of wonderment where anything can happen and does.

Parson, along with Darius Colquitt as Scarecrow, Jesse Dean Stanford as Tinman and James Earl Jones II as Lion, all boast terrific vocals and have all the right dance moves. Toe-tapping and humming just come natural when a musical such as this one is done right.

Especially funny and scene-stealing is Alexis J. Rogers as Addaperle, the "other" witch sister of Glinda. She has great comedic timing, eye rolls and facial expressions that sell her character in every way as an enjoyable commodity.

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Although her appearances are limited to the second act, Felicia Field's Evillene, who is the Wicked Witch of the West in this story, is a great contrast to all the good that otherwise dominates this make-believe musical.

Costume Designer Brenda Winstead and Wardrobe Supervisor Greta Humphrey have dreamed up some out-of-this world creations, especially the attire of the characters of Scarecrow, Evillene, Glinda and Addaperle.

There are some moments of loud "booms" caused from sound effect pyrotechnics that could be toned down some and a scene in the first act called "Kalidah Country" that I'm still trying to figure out.

One of the more dazzling special effects is a floating green dot laser show used to represent the Emerald City, which is truly dazzling.

But as with any tried-and-true well-done musical, the songs transport the audience to another dimension. "Ease on Down the Road," "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday" and "No Bad News" are better than the gifts of courage, brains or even a trip back home to Kansas.

Tickets for "The Wiz" are $36 to $40 at (219) 836-3255 or theatreatthecenter.com.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

 

 

 

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