Director Tod Booth took a little liberty when he revamped the story line of “The Wiz” and the end results is a hit. With a combination of some actors who you’ve seen appearing at the Alhambra Theater & Dining in previous shows and some new talent, this presentation is chocked-full of an all-black professional cast who will keep you entertained as any Hollywood production has done.
The Alhambra “Wiz” production opens with a fascinating choreography of ‘wind’ blowing over the stage. Choreographers James Kinney* & Alex Nordin* did a superb job with the entire cast as each actor glides across the stage and up & down the aisles. The music is toe-tapping and will have you singing along with some of the familiar tunes. There are a couple of musical selections that are not in the original score, but those songs are very well done, like “The Feeling We Once Had” belted out by Cherry Hamlin* (Aunt Em/Glinda). Yes, you have seen her before at the Alhambra, when she portrayed Celie in “The Color Purple.” Talk about a quick change artist, this lady does a magic act of changing clothes at the end.
Darryl Reuben Hall* (founder of Stage Aurora Theatrical Company), usually doesn’t entertain in the forefront, yet the man has a set of pipes and can kick higher than any Rocket – even with platform shoes. As Uncle Henry and The Wiz, Hall allows you to “Meet the Wiz” up close and personal in this show.
If you think that you just saw and heard the Tin Man, you have. Actor James Webb* recently finished his engagement at the Alhambra in “Big River”. He’s the man with the sultry Paul Robeson voice and that sound continues in The Wiz.
Tarra Conner jones* does a fantastic Evillene when she sings, “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” This is the same actress who played Sofia in her Alhambra debut of “The Color Purple” and “Shrek the Musical”. She’s got a deep melodic voice that will command the audience to sit up and take notice.
She may be in disguise as Addaperle, but Akia Uwanda is also to be remembered from Alhambra’s “The Color Purple” and “Dreamgirls.” Akia is no stranger around Jacksonville. She also entertains at the Clara White Mission, Souper Soul Sunday and Sweet Pete’s; just to name a few venues.
Saving the best almost for last is the storm trooping actress, Alexis D. Tidwell* (Dorothy) who was ill before opening night, yet she gives her best in song, dance and acting. Alexis is new to the Alhambra, nonetheless, she is a woman who portrays a little girl, and you might think that she needs to be carded as in a club, but she can hold her own.
Chef DeJuan Roy has done it again with his culinary skills. You will leave full and you won’t be disappointed or have need of any other condiments. See a few samples of the meal and the cast members in the photos above. Unlike little Toto in the Alhambra’s production of the “Wizard of Oz”, Pebbles was not available for “The Wiz”, yet the show managed to go on without her. The set changes are very smooth and the scenery emit hues of green throughout the Emerald City. There may still be some seats left and you’ll want to be there. *Denotes Actors’ Equity Member*