By Ciara Smith, Gary Crusader
The theatre that opened with August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” is now closing its 20th season with Dorothy, Toto, and friends.
“The Wiz” will conclude the Westside Theatre Guild’s season from April 26 to May 7. This musical retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” is a far cry from the original – it’s upbeat and unconventional with a 70s twist.
The story begins on a tumbledown farm in Kansas, but the tornado sets Dorothy and Toto down in the city of Oz. After celebrating the demise of the Wicked Witch of the East with the Munchkins, Dorothy departs for the Emerald City with a live yellow brick road. She encounters a hip Scarecrow who wants to join her because he has a feeling he isn’t going anywhere; an uptight Tin Man who needs Dorothy’s help to hang loose again, and a mama’s-boy Lion who has lost faith in the psychiatric help he’s been getting from an owl. Together they will seek help from the great and powerful Oz.
Danielle Duncan, a member of the Westside Theatre Guild since 1998, plays Aunt Em.
“It’s so surreal and we’re taking this very seriously because you can’t play with ‘The Wiz.’ It’s very, very exciting. I always wanted to perform ‘The Wiz.’ The energy and the atmosphere around ‘The Wiz’ is so exciting, and so high, I believe it’s because one of our own played a character,” said Duncan of closing the season with the iconic production.
“Anytime you have a musical it’s exciting, but to see the young people and us older ones all come together to put this on for our city it’s exciting, and the community is excited, and the children are too. We’re so humbled and honored to be able to be putting this on. The direction of Mr. Spencer is always great – he’s great at what he does – so it’s been a pleasure and an honor. With so many things going on in the city, it just feels good, it feels right. It’s positive and it feels like what we should be doing. Anything that brings the city together and gets people all in one place it’s always a good thing.”
The production stars Taylor Iman as Dorothy, Dwayne Coleman Jr. as the Tin Man, Ryan Robinson as the Scarecrow, Lehman Gray as the Lion, Markeysha Coleman as Addaperle, Dwayne Coleman Sr. as The Wiz, Rose Marie Simmons as Evilene and Altovise Ferguson as Glenda.
Directed by Mark Spencer and choreographed by Asia Dickens.
“The audience can expect one of the best shows that the West Side Theatre Guild has ever done,” said Duncan. They can expect to laugh, and cry, and enjoy themselves. The cast is phenomenal!
Showings are scheduled for April 26, 27, 28, 29, May 3, 4, 5, 6 at 7 p.m. and April 30 and May 7 at 4 p.m., 2017, 900 Gerry St., in Gary.
Tickets are $20.00 in advance, $25.00 at the door and can be reserved by calling 219.390.WSTG (9784).