The Wiz, whichtakes the classic story of Dorothy, played by Kelly Beachner, and her trip to Oz with a fresh, new twist on it, was put into production by the Alfred State Drama club this semester. In this version of the story, the yellow brick road became a group of reserved, helpful citizens who led Dorothy’s way, and the traditional ruby red slippers were replaced with a pair of silver stiletto pumps. The characters were also given a modern twist. For example, the wizard of Oz, played by Tad Johnson, was a failed preacher from Omaha, Nebraska, who found himself swept away to Oz when a storm came. While he was preaching from a balloon, he found himself blown off to new location where he finds the simple pleasures of life, “power, prestige and money,” and becomes somewhat of a novelty to the citizens of the Emerald city with his introduction of green-lensed glasses to the population.
In addition to the tweaking of the wizard, is the slight changes of three beloved characters’ back stories: the scarecrow, the lion, and the tin man. The scarecrow, played by Kris Majka, is just an average scarecrow who has found himself unimpressed with the starlit business of “striking a pose” all day. The lion, played by Ali Moore, is an “only cub” with trouble being liberated from his strong-willed single mother. Lastly, the tin man, played by Ryan Shukis, is a lumber jack who has found his cursed ax to cause one too many a repair for his body. Despite their embellished histories, these characters still take the traditional trip to find the Wizard with Dorothy. Through a series of events, the wicked witch of the west, played by Joenette Cobb, is undone by her traditional enemy: water. The wizard then rewards the scarecrow with All Bra(i)n, the lion with spirits, and the tin man with a bed-side light in the shape of a heart. In the end, Dorothy and each of her friends get what they were searching for. The performance featured special appearances by Alfred State’s Japanese dance club and belly dancing club, which only enhanced the production. Overall, The Wiz was a well-executed and humorous musical that featured many of the talented actors and singers that walk the sidewalks of Alfred State. I will certainly be on the lookout for next semester’s production.