SCPA, THE WIZ. The Scarecrow, Lion, Tinman, and Dorothy ease on down the road. From left to right: Colton Henderson, DeMarco Reed, Chloe Hall, Gemariah Washington
Review by Ashlyn Fuhrmann, William Henry Harrison High School
Flying monkeys, evil witches, and magic galore! What else may appear as we "ease on down the road" in The School for Creative and Performing Arts' production of The Wiz!
Opening on Broadway in 1975, The Wiz is a jazz retelling of the beloved classic The Wizard of Oz. Winning seven Tony awards, The Wiz quickly became a hit through its dynamic storytelling, electrifying songs, and stunning costumes. This cult classic's rendition of Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion beautifully showed the progression of their characters in a brilliant new way.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts' production of The Wiz fully executed the difficult dancing and powerful vocals of this show. The detailed set design, as well as intricate costumes led to a spectacular and enjoyable production.
Chloe Hall brilliantly showcased Dorothy's range of emotions and character development throughout the performance. From her ecstatic interactions with the characters around her to her tear jerking rendition of the song's closing number "Home," Hall never failed to execute Dorothy's characteristics with poise and grace, leaving a lasting impact on those around her. And who would Dorothy be without her trio of best friends Tin Man (Colton Henderson), Scarecrow (Demarco Reed), and Lion (Gemariah Washington). The group's on stage chemistry and energetic actions resulted in a hilarious and fun-filled show for everyone. Additionally, Henderson's vocal tone was beautifully balanced in his ballad "What Would I Do If I Could Feel," leaving an emotional end to act one.
Further bringing this star-studded spectacle to life was Stephen Lambert's larger than life performance of the Wiz himself. His outstanding acting capabilities and majestic vocals brought the mystery surrounding the Wiz to light. And helping Dorothy along the way was none other than Addapearle (Neveah Carson). Her low range and comedic timing left a lasting impression from scene to scene. We also see otherworldly sets come to life through the dancers, whether their taking place as a storm, the yellow brick road, or poppies, these dancers never failed to bring originality to the song, and brilliantly rounded out this terrific cast.
And what would a show be without its gorgeous crew elements. The realistic yet magical makeup, led by Tobie Brooks and Angelica Needham Castano, brought the land of Oz to life in a new and modernized take, bringing the 70's it was inspired by to life. We also see Ellise Cochrane's brilliant costumes through the varying color palettes in different scenes, ranging from bright neon's to blacks; each costume had an intricate and specific meaning connected to the storyline.
This breathtaking show is a tough one to tackle with its difficult vocals and complicated dancing, but The School for Creative and Performing Arts did it with seeming ease, leading to a memorable performance full of joy, laughter, and emotion.
SCPA, THE WIZ. Dorothy and the Scarecrow dance together after he is freed from his post in the cornfield. Dorothy: Chloe Hall; Scarecrow: DeMarco Reed
Review by Gabby Fronk, Loveland High School Critic Team
After a witty introduction involving a trio of pit singers, the orchestra swells as the curtain rises, revealing a worn-down house in 1970s Kansas. Let The Wiz begin! With breathtaking vocals and immersive scenery, The School for Creative and Performing Arts seamlessly transports the audience into the Land of Oz.
A perfectly unique take on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and inspired by 1970's Las Vegas, The Wiz explores what it means to believe in yourself, and the importance of realizing what matters to you the most. Dorothy, a teenage girl from Kansas, attempts to make her way home after suddenly being blown into the Land of Oz by a ferocious twister. Along her journey to see the Wiz, Dorothy befriends the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion, and together they face trials and challenges on their quest to find brains, a heart, courage, and home.
The passion and talent that radiated from the cast's performance had no chance of being lost on anyone. From the main four to the ensemble, dynamic and immersive characters emerged throughout the entire show, never allowing a dull moment to take hold. Paired with incredibly fluid scene changes, the captivating sets pulled everything together; providing the perfect amount of mystique and glamour required for any one scene.
Doing justice to Dorothy, Chloe Hall cleverly brought the character's whimsical and willful nature to the stage through her stunning musicality and quirky facial expressions.
Demarco Reed's Scarecrow was portrayed exceptionally well throughout the show; his loose and fluid movements made the audience think twice about whether he really was made of straw.
The leading role of Tinman was expertly brought to life by Colton Henderson, whose physicality and charm easily expressed the heartfelt nature of the character. Finally, pulling the group together was Gemariah Washington as Lion. Emulating the character's ironic lack of courage, Washington displayed a hilarious performance that was delightfully amusing to watch.
Demanding the audience's attention every moment she was onstage was Mia Richardson as Evilene. Her stunning vocals coupled with her commanding yet comedic embodiment of the character made every scene she was a part of a joy to witness. Similarly, every time Neveah Carson as Addapearle was onstage, laughter resounded throughout the theater. From her actions to her vocals, Carson's portrayal of the charismatic character provided a well-cultivated lightheartedness that resulted in a fun performance.
Considering this was a show based on The Wizard of Oz, the technical aspects were no doubt challenging and demanding. But the efforts of the entire crew shone throughout the performance. The sets, managed by Kiyanna Beamon , Lotte Holland, Eaen Gongora, and McGregor Phillips were all spectacularly immersive, fully encapsulating the wonder of Oz through Americana-inspired eras.
With profound passion and dedication, the students of SCPA achieved an absolutely fantastic show. From curtain to curtain, The Wiz was an enthralling and perfectly touching experience that incorporated what it means to believe in yourself and realize what matters the most.
SCPA, THE WIZ. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion meet The Wiz, ruler of The Emerald City. From left to right: Gemariah Washington, DeMarco Reed, Stephen Lambert, Chloe Hall, Colton Henderson
Review by Grace Hoffmann, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
With wicked witches, a roaring twister, and The Emerald City, The School for Creative and Performing Arts had audiences follow them on the yellow brick road to see The Wiz for a timeless tale of friendship and believing in yourself.
The classic story of The Wizard of Oz is retold in The Wiz with Motown inspired music. The story follows Dorothy Gale, a young girl from Kansas that gets swept into the magical world of Oz, meeting witches and an unlikely group of friends that teach her the true lessons of life.
SCPA took the roots and culture of The Wiz and transformed it into their own, from using a student-operated fly system to having talented pit singers (Abigail Glacken, Pearl Trout, and Julia Kirkham) to pay tribute to the Motown sound of the show.
Lead actress Chloe Hall took on the role of Dorothy and showed her impressive talent as a vocalist. During her performance, she showed off the balance and control she had over her voice in songs "Soon as I Get Home" and "Be a Lion," harmonizing beautifully with other cast members such as Gemariah Washington (Lion) and switching seamlessly between her mix-belt and chest voice. Most impressively was her song "Home" in which she showed audiences her full range with well-supported belts and the emotion of going back home to Kansas and finally tapping her shoes three times.
The chemistry between Hall, Washington, Demarco Reed (Scarecrow), and Colton Henderson (Tinman) was seen throughout the show with the actors' body language and in their heartfelt songs, most prominently in "What I Could Do if I Could Feel." The entire cast was filled with many talented dancers and vocalists, featured in "Brand New Day" as the whole ensemble celebrated the death of the Wicked Witch of the West (Mia Richardson.) Three extremely talented vocalists that stood out in the show. Abigail Rauen as Aunt Em, the impressive strength of falsetto whistle notes of Stephen Lambert as The Wiz, and the sweet, soprano of Addy Probasco as Glinda. Despite some microphone issues, the entire cast stayed in character and did not miss a cue or dance step, showing their professionalism and comfort in their roles.
The impressive cast would not have been able to shine without the fantastic work of the crew to enhance the production overall. The SCPA orchestra acted as the pit for the show, never missing a cue and staying in time the entire show, playing on a professional level. Mixed with the design of the sets (Kiyanna Beamon and crew ) that enhanced the feeling of traveling through Oz with a functional gate to the Emerald City and colorful poppy fields and the special effects (Maceo Moll Hooper and Finley Manktelow) of the flying monkeys and bubbles.
Overall, the crew complimented the cast beautifully to create a successful trip to Oz and overall production for School for Creative and Performing Arts. As Dorothy clicked her heels to send the audience home, it was known The Wiz at SCPA was magical!
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"SCPA no doubt houses incredible vocalists, but particularly notable was Abigail Rauen as Aunt Em. Rauen's incredible belt in the opening number, "The Feeling That We Have," was powerful yet effortless, stirring a roaring applause in the audience. Additionally, the dance ensemble's magnificent technique solicited gasps of awe. In particular, Tristen Ingram and Rashaad Rice stood out for their skillful turns and style."
-Tricia Halili-Felse, Loveland High School Critic Team
"This show could not have been possible without the amazing dedication and work ethic of the astounding crew. The SCPA Orchestra was beautifully clear, delivering an enjoyable overture and never lagging by even a beat during the musical numbers. The sound crew, including Miles DiMeo, Gyasi Henderson, Shania Brewer, and Iris Combs, were very skilled.. The sound was crisp throughout the show, and even when a mic started producing some feedback during a scene, the sound crew wasted no time in fixing the problem efficiently. Maceo Moll Hooper and Finely Manktelow perfectly topped off the show with their amazing detail. From the Wiz's fire trick, the videos and smoke, to the flying monkey and Glinda's bubble, this duo executed the perfect details that gave the Wiz its magical and fantastical feel."
-Aubrie Klei, Campbell County High School Critic Team
"The sets featured in SCPA's version of The Wiz were spectacular. Specifically, the framing around the stage really set the mood for the entire show. The sound effects were on point and the echoing effect on The Wiz's voice accurately showed his power and dominance. The sound effects were clearly on time on every cue."
-Hannah Garrett, Larry A. Ryle High School Critic Team
"Chole Hall's mesmerizing performance as the beloved Dorothy never wavered even though she was on stage for the majority of the show. In particular, her rendition of the closing number "Home" was jaw-dropping. Hall's emotional journey throughout the song was on par with professional performers. Similarly, Colton Henderson's Tinman was impressive in his range of comedic and tender moments. For a character longing for a heart, Henderson's performance of "What Would I Do If I Could Feel" was a tear-jerker."
-Grace Rudie, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
"Though only on stage for a brief moment, Aunt Em, played by Abigail Rauen, filled the theater with her beautiful voice in one of the opening songs, "The Feeling That We Have." She made a big impact with her small amount of stage time, which helped the audience see the love Dorothy was desperately trying to get back to throughout the whole show."
-Kayla Kilgore, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
"The tornado dancers put on a very strong show from start to finish. Overall, the tornado scene was absolutely stunning. Every dancer was in perfect unison and utilized their costumes to put on an incredibly concise number from start to finish. Though they were not always in unison, they made up for it in the radiating energy they had in every scene."
-Ryan Peerless, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"As the music came to a glorious end, the echoes of the final number seemed to signal a beloved show coming to an end as the cast took their very last curtain call and looked out at the standing ovation cheering back at them."
-Wolf Singer, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team