A rehearsal of a scene where The Wiz, top, played by Tori Lawrence, gets ready to leave Oz in the balloon.
Local theater lovers can plan to "Ease on Down the Road" March 22-24, 2019, at Shelby High School (SHS) Theatre Department's production of The Wiz.
The Wiz was one of the first rock musicals to find success on the Broadway stage. The show made its Broadway debut in 1975 and was adapted into a film version featuring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross three years later.
The Wiz originated as a book by William F. Brown, which was based on L. Frank Baum's classic fairy tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. With music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, the story of The Wiz follows Dorothy on her journey to see the Wizard and kill the Wicked Witch of the West. It infuses The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with a mix of rock, gospel and soul music. Winner of seven Tony Awards, including best musical and best original score, it was also adapted in 2015 into a live television performance starring Common, Queen Latifah and David Alan Grier.
Tresjuan Ukweli "Kweli" Huskey-Littlejohn has a special connection to the show and her character, Dorothy.
"I feel like I've been going through the process of growing up just like Dorothy," says Huskey-Littlejohn, who is a senior at SHS. "I have to deal with leaving home just like she does. I feel exactly like she feels."
Director Dan Treharne also has a connection to the show.
"I was in this show as a junior at Shelby High School, and I am excited to bring it back to the Malcolm Brown stage with my own cast," he says.
As an alumnus of the program, Treharne understands the nostalgia a show can bring.
"We are trying to blend some of the memorable moments from the 1997 version with new ideas so we can appeal to those who remember and those who have never experienced the magic of The Wiz."
Show times for The Wiz are Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23, 2019, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 24, at 3 p.m. in SHS's Malcolm Brown Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, and free for
children 5 and younger. Discounted group and individual tickets may be purchased in advance online by going to
By April Hoyle Shauf, Special to Community First Media