‘The Wiz’ Will Ease on Down to ASU in November

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wiz flyer

By Hazel Scott/ASU

The Tony Award-winning musical, “The Wiz,” is coming to Alabama State University November 16-18 at 7 p.m. nightly with a 3 p.m. matinee on November 19, 2023, at the Leila Barlow Theatre.

ASU’s Department of Theatre’s fall production presents a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel “The Wizard of Oz,” through an African American perspective.

 “‘The Wiz’ is a Broadway musical about a re-imaging of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ set against an urban background with an African American cast,” said director Brian Martin.

This twist shows Dorothy, who wears jeans rather than a dress, as a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher from Harlem who along with her dog, Toto, is lost in a snowstorm on the night of Thanksgiving and is miraculously whisked away to an urban fantasy land called the Land of Oz, which looks like a strangely surreal version of New York City. Dorothy learns the only way she can get home is to ease on down the road to see The Wiz. Along the way, she meets a scarecrow made of garbage who wants a brain; a Tin Man, who is a turn-of-the-century mechanical carnie from Coney Island who wants a heart; and a lion who was banished from the jungle and must make his living as a statue in front of the main research branch of the New York Public Library.

“‘The Wiz’ has been remounted and redone in so many ways over the years.  This version, which is on national tour, is more modernized for the audience we have today. I wanted to direct it from the viewpoint of offering hope to our generation coming before and after us ‘Baby Boomers’ - the Millennials, Generation X – to know we have ways to get beyond any issues that set us back and know everything we need we already possess…we have the tools to be our greater selves,” Martin explained.                                         
Though the play has an urban feel, audiences will still get to enjoy the epic grooves of such beloved, timeless hits as “Ease on Down the Road,” which became the show’s break-out single, and “Home” in this spectacular retelling. And, of course, there will be the loveable Munchkins. 

Forty years ago, Martin pointed out, Broadway history was made when the cast and crew of “The Wiz: The Supersoul Musical ‘Wizard of Oz’” received nine Tony nominations and eight wins. The production was led by African Americans and performed by African Americans, all of whom shared the honors of winning the 1975 Tony Award for Best Musical. “The Wiz” is also groundbreaking for its adaptation of L. Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900) as a tale that celebrates African American street style as both a unique subculture and an unapologetically American life. The song lyrics, script, sets, and costumes referenced and championed the struggles and triumphs of African Americans.

If you missed the show in November, you must “ease on down the road” in January to see this incredible, theatrical experience.

“We are considering bringing the show back in January for an encore performance. We have a lot of high school and middle school students and some audiences who might miss the first show,” Martin noted.

Admission to “The Wiz” is $10 for students with valid ID, $20 general admission and $15 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at the ASU Stadium Ticket Office and at ticketreturn.com.

“Hurry and buy your tickets because we are selling out fast. It’s going to be an exciting and fun show,” he said.