The fall tour of Stephanie Mills, original star of Broadway's "The Wiz," opened last night at Constitution Hall with a heart-stopping moment of spontaneous drama. As Mills made her entrance, a white-suited man leaped on stage, apparently threatening her. A security guard said later he thought at first the intruder was part of the act, but reacted quickly after Mills screamed.
The intruder was wrestled quickly off stage, and police said later he was evicted from the auditorium and not arrested. But Mills appeared shaken throughout her set and refused to return for an encore. She recovered enough, however, to bring a flashy blend of Broadway show tunes, Las Vegas glitter and urban funk to the stage.
Despite colorless playing from her nine-piece band, Mills, sheathed in a series of skimpy, shimmering costumes, amply displayed her Broadway training. With a powerful, stagey soprano and seemingly limitless energy belying her petite size (4 feet 10 inches), Mills was at her sassy best in a set highlighted by Ashford and Simpson's "Keep Away Girls," her expressive eyes flashing and voice swooping and growling.
Opening for Mills was Change, a stylish, 11-piece "funkestra," whose infectious energy and imaginative choreography overcame the murky sound mix.