If you’re looking for something entertaining to do this weekend you could attend Alton High School’s production of The Wiz. The production is based on the original 1975 musical with music and lyrics written by Charlie Smalls and the script written by William F. Brown. It is based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
The two act show starts off with Dorthy and her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and the rest of her family on their farm in Kansas.
Like the original, Dorthy is swept away by a tornado and lands in a strange place. It’s here where she meets the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion. It’s also in Act 1 that the audience is introduced to the musical’s most popular song “East on Down the Road,” as they dance down the yellow brick road. Other songs include:The Feeling We Once Had, The Lion’s Dream,So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard, Everybody Rejoice and Funky Monkeys.
I never got to see the musical when it toured the country, but I did get to see Motown’s film that starred Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsy Russell, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne. They were and still are considered some of the best black performers in Hollywood.
In the AHS production, Dorothy is played by Adrianna Jones, an junior. The Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Cowardly Lion are respectively played by sophomore Jordan Pfeifer, senior Kyle Montgomery and senior Josh Kuehn. Ian Taul plays The Wiz.
I’m amazed at how talented high school students are these days. I never had the talent of the youth today, but then again acting and singing never interested me. I never dreamed of making it to Broadway or Hollywood so when I see kids with spectacular voices and the ability to capture an audience at such a young age I am in awe. I’ve learned a lot this year about the music and theater arts programs at Alton High School because my son is in band. He’s playing trombone for pit orchestra and the other night as we were leaving I started to sing (which believe me is not good) Ease on Down the Road, he asked how I knew the song.
I said just because I can’t sing doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate seeing others who can. The songs are what drive audiences to musicals and if the lyrics are catchy, well enough said.
Everyone should “ease on down the road” to the 47th spring musical, which opens tonight and runs through Sunday in the school’s Auditorium. Curtain time is 7 p.m., except for Sunday which is 2 p.m. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for students.