Michael Gray's Arts Blog review - The Wiz
With a young cast of almost fifty souls, at least ten assorted dancing/moving groups, fourteen named parts, three big ensemble numbers and costumes by the truck load here was a logistical exercise more appropriate for a royal wedding than a musical production. Yet Jeremy Tustin and his production team not only moved Dorothy from Kansas to Oz but transported the whole audience with him.
I have loved this show since I first saw it twelve years ago; it has one of the few soundtracks that can stand alone in my view. CYGAMS certainly did it full justice with glorious costumes and lighting and a wonderful sound from both pit and stage. Also I have rarely if ever seen so many explosions, fireworks and smoke effects onstage during a musical. These can often be a source of technical failure and massive source of frustration and yet they all worked to perfection and added to the overall visual spectacle.
But to praise the sights and sounds without mentioning the performers would be empty praise. One of the joys of watching young people perform is the energy and enthusiasm that is often missing in the older performer. These qualities were clearly present in the talented principal line up but particularly in those characters who spent most time on stage – Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, not forgetting The Wiz himself. All had strong vocals and charisma, adding strong likeability to their hard acting skills.
My only constructive criticism is that Bart Lambert was handicapped as the Lion having to wear a prosthetic nose/muzzle, which looked great but made dialogue sometimes difficult to hear. I know from other shows that his dialogue is usually excellent.
The choreography in all the numbers was inventive and fun; the use of special dancers as the Yellow Brick Road, as well as Poppies, the Tornado etc was clever and worked well. All the choreographers and dancers must be applauded for their hard work since the effect, especially during ensemble numbers when the stage was alive with movement, was superb. It is perhaps dangerous to pick anyone from the crowd but I must mention Jemma Wilson, who was so slick that she drew the eye.
Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this show, not forgetting the costume makers. Their productivity must be awesome and should be harnessed to eradicating the national debt.
Reviewer – Stewart Adkins, NODA East