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Union Board presents 'The Wiz'

POSTED AT 12:15 AM ON Oct. 27, 2010  (UPDATED AT 09:14 AM ON Oct. 27, 2010)

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slideshow PHOTO GALLERY: The Wiz Rehearsals

After eight months of preparation and nearly 160 auditions, 34 people will take the Buskirk-Chumley Theater stage as the cast of “The Wiz” Thursday.

The musical is presented by Union Board.

“There have been little things here and there, but so far it has been going great,” senior and Assistant Director of Performing Arts for “The Wiz” Traci Pettigrew said. “It has been a great experience for the entire production team and the cast.”

“The Wiz” is a musical that retells the story of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” through the context of African American culture. However, Union Board’s production of “The Wiz” focuses on several societal issues in addition to race and auditions were open to everyone.

The story follows the main character Dorothy on her journey through the city of Oz and the people she encounters in her quest to return home.

However, unlike the glitzy and glamorous 1975 Broadway production of “The Wiz,” this version is stripped down to focus on topics such as stereotypes, homelessness and racial issues by creating characters such as the alcoholic “tin man” and homeless “scarecrow.”

“The Wiz” brings the deeper aspects of the musical forward.

Travis Lampke, a sophomore casted as the drag queen “lion,” said this take on the musical makes the characters much more real.

“One of the key songs is ‘Believe in Yourself,’” he said. “I’m not playing a lion scared for some undetermined reason. When I say I need courage, what does that mean to me as a man who performs as a woman?”

The production of “The Wiz” has been made possible through the help of a team of about 70 students. The budget for the production was tight, requiring those who organized the event to rely on monetary and prop donations and to search for the wardrobes secondhand.

“All of the set pieces are things people from salvage yards and antique shops donated,” junior, choreographer and costume designer Rachel Livingston said. “Everything comes from the community. We’re hoping to give back as much as we can.”

The production is in support of the local not-for-profit Shalom Community Center. Those in attendance at “The Wiz” will have a chance to donate to the center and speak to volunteers in the BCT lobby.

“A lot of the storyline of ‘The Wiz’ deals with homelessness,” Pettigrew said. “This gives people a chance to give back.”

Livingston said people should not expect glitz, happiness and Michael Jackson, but she hopes people take with them the message not to take any moment for granted, to spend time with those you love and to be tolerant of others.

“This is a musical you can digest,” she said. “We don’t serve fluff.”

‘THE WIZ’
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday
WHERE Buskirk-Chumley Theater
MORE INFO Main floor tickets are $12 for students and $17 for the public. Balcony seats are $10 for students and $15 for the public. Tickets can be purchased at the BCT box office or at buskirkchumley.org.

 

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