Superb student direction, phenomenal vocals, strong ensemble imbue dynamism into ‘The Wiz’ at T. C. Williams


Ben Ribler, Samantha Williams, Alejandro Cruz-Lemus, and Kamen Wilks (Laura Paez)
May 1, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Maddy DeFreece, a student at Oakton High  School , reviews ‘The Wiz’ performed by T. C. Williams High School as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

“He’s the Wiz and he lives in Oz”, but recently, The Wiz “Eased on Down the Road” to T.C. Williams High School. First opening on Broadway, January 5, 1975, The Wiz, directed by Geoffrey Holder, ran for four years and 1,672 performances, until it closed on January 28, 1979. This soulful rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” was a breakthrough for Broadway, as it was one of the first musicals featuring an all African-American cast.

In the T.C. Williams' production, Samantha Williams, playing role of the naive Dorothy, excelled in the character, presenting a child-like and quirky disposition. Performing with authentic care and sentiment, Williams displayed a spirit of sensibility and kindness as she encountered numerous other characters. Although, her bona fide acting was surely impressive, Williams shined predominantly in her phenomenal vocal talent. Specifically, in “Home” and “Be a Lion”, Williams sang with sheer incredulity, leaving the audience in absolute awe.

As Williams “Eased on Down” the yellow brick road, she stumbled upon oodles of kooky characters including a brainless Scarecrow (Ben Ribler), a Tin Man in need of a heart (Alejandro Cruz), and a cowardly Lion(Kamen Wilks). Proving to be a tremendous trio, Ribler, Cruz, and Wilks cooperated effectively, demonstrating excellent character choices and believable amity. Standing out from the bunch, Wilks’ portrayal of the cowardly Lion was exceedingly impressive. From the impudent delivery of his lines, to his gelastic gestures, Wilks captivated all attention with his hilarities, making him a clear audience favorite.

Another notable supporting role in the cast included Addaperle portrayed by Barbara Peisch. Displaying her comedic genius, with her hysterical physicalities and flawless timing, Peisch performed with enduring energy, committing to her character the entire time. In addition to Peisch’s performance, Domina Williams proved to be hilarious as well in her featured role as Gatekeeper. Adding abundant comic relief to the production, Williams excelled in this role, creating a hysterically memorable character.

Consisting of animated personalities, noticeable vocal talent, and stellar dance technique, the production featured an exceptionally strong ensemble. Especially in the musical numbers, “Everybody Rejoice (Brand New Day)” and “Ya’ll Got It”, the liveliness and energetic spirit, of the ensemble allowed thorough enjoyment for the audience. Particularly in dance numbers, Ados McKinney stood out with his impressive tumbling skills and impeccable energy.

Directing a phenomenal cast of 38 students was Sarah Laane, a senior at T.C Williams High School. Her decisions, especially the projection of the yellow brick road in order to distract from set changes, were particularly smart and undoubtedly successful. In addition to the superior direction, the technical aspects were sufficient. Although in some songs the body microphone quality was occasionally uneven, the exceptional orchestra played along with the actors with precise timing and volume.

Overall, T.C Williams High School’s production of “The Wiz” was consistently captivating, featuring incredibly distinctive characters and ensemble members. Putting on an outstanding performance, the cast and crew succeeded in leaving the impression to “Believe in Yourself.”  

 

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