The Peanut Gallery Players – with a company of more than 70 actors aged 6 to 18 years – is taking over Meadow Brook Theatre with its new production of “The Wiz.” This is the ‘70s-era musical that rocked Broadway – taking seven Tony Awards in 1975, including Best Musical. The stage show went on to inspire the film version starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and Nipsey Russell – itself nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
The story, of course, is an update of the essential L. Frank Baum “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” story – with a more modern Dorothy wishing she could leave home, and then spending the rest of the play trying to find her way back. Detroit has seen two recent productions of the traditional version (the national touring company production and a huge community theatre effort by Stagecrafters). So it seems a production of this classic ‘70s version – with such hit songs as “Ease on Down the Road” – is well overdue.
The Peanut Gallery Players – now in its sixth year of high-energy theatrical training for children and youth – promises that its production of “The Wiz” will be a fun and family-friendly contemporary romp through the well-loved story.
Leading the cast from and back to Kansas is Stoney Creek HS Sophomore Ashlyn Moran as Dorothy. Helping her along the way and finding their brains, heart and courage respectively are Andrew Kubik as Scarecrow, Lee Cleaveland as Tinman and Grant Cleaveland as Lion. The energetic cast also includes Kendall Ashman (Lake Orion) as Addaperle- Good Witch of the North, Alexis Sargent (Lake Orion) as Glinda-Good Witch of the South and AlissaBeth Morton (Rochester) as Evillene, Bad Witch of the West. The talented Tim Olszanski is The Wiz himself.
Tickets are $15 for Adults and $12 for Students and Seniors. Groups of 12 or more should call for group discounts. Tickets are available by calling 248-885-5129, on-line at the Peanut Gallery website, or at the door on performance days, two hours before curtain. Performance times are 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, August 2, 2014
Meadow Brook Theatre is located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.