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  The Wiz Reviews
The Wiz
The Wiz

The Wiz
Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit
Thru - Apr 23, 2017

Show Information


Kokandy Productions at Theater Wit

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...Even though this big cast is crammed onto a small stage at Theater Wit (musical director Jimmy Morehead's musicians are up in the balcony), it's all a lot of fun, especially once Frederick Harris gets fired up as the Wiz and Angela Alise starts to flash as Addaperle. The performers clearly can't wait for the numbers, all of which are executed with verve and staged with plenty of wit by the choreographer Breon Arzell. But I still kept wondering where we were all going, really, as we eased on down the road — here a pedestrian walkway, striped in yellow. Was this a safe journey? An act of transformation? A call for change? Wither this Emerald City?"
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Chris Jones



Chicago Sun Times- Recommended

"...It is probably impossible to calculate how many people have seen “The Wizard of Oz,” that eternally magical 1939 MGM film version of L. Frank Baum’s classic story. And it might well be nearly as difficult to figure out the total audience for the many incarnations of “The Wiz, ” that game-changing, exuberantly urbanized, all-black, Tony Award-winning 1975 Broadway hit with a book by William F. Brown, and soul, rock, disco and gospel-infused score by Charlie Smalls."
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Hedy Weiss



Chicago Reader- Highly Recommended

"...The secret is casting: Brown packs her ensemble with powerful singers and dancers, all of whom bring the best out of the sometimes dated, corny material. Sydney Charles is especially fine as Dorothy, a role that requires her to play the full range of emotions, from meek and confused to bold and plucky, then end the show with some full-throated gospel."
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Jack Helbig



Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Sydney Charles endows Dorothy with pipes as expressive of defiance as of supplication. Indeed, the entire cast ( and the likewise exuberant band camped on the overpass ) exhibits full-bodied vocal ranges lending gusto to a lush roster of video-ready compact musical extravaganzas so catalyzed by the intimate configuration of the north studio at Theater Wit that audience members could be heard spontaneously witnessing along with the chorus on the roof-raising "Brand New Day." March may have come in like a lamb this year, but this Kokandy production ensures its going out like a you-know-what."
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Mary Shen Barnidge



Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...If anything, Kokandy's production is so solid at such an intimate scale that it lets you see the shortcomings of the show itself, which I'd attribute to William F. Brown's rushed book. Charlie Smalls's R&B-tinged collection of songs is still an all-time great in terms of marrying pop idioms with Broadway, and music director James Morehead and company light them up here. But I'd forgotten how little time William F. Brown allows us to spend with each of these characters. Just because The Wiz was drawn from one of the best-known stories of the 20th century doesn't mean we should be in such a hurry to ease on down the road-not when the reconception is so good."
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Kris Vire



ChicagoCritic- Highly Recommended

"...This cast expressed the hope and courage necessary to accomplish their desires. The do so with dazzling rock, R & B, gospel and soul tunes. This is a fun, feel-good musical. The Wiz is one of 2017’s best shows. Don’t miss it!"
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Tom Williams



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...This production, directed to sheer perfection by Lili-Anne Brown utilizes the small stage of Theater Wit far exceeding my expectations. With the added choreography by Breon Arzell and the high energy of this well-cast ensemble, I see a show that should get extended and possibly win several Jeff Awards. I think having a woman directing a show about a young girl, Dorothy (Sydney Charles is one amazing actress and what a powerful voice) who is now a project dweller, and gets blown away from her home to a new place, Oz. There is by the way, no dog, although the name Toto is mentioned (perhaps as a friend or area “dealer”) and upon her landing on and taking out the Wicked Witch, she gets a warm welcome, but to get back home, must meet with the “Great Oz” aka The Wiz!"
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Alan Bresloff



Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...Combining wit, wisdom and wonderment, with an infectious score that still sounds fresh and contemporary this beloved story from the early 1900’s remains as much fun as ever. Its score, filled with toe-tapping, infectious tunes that audiences will be humming for days to come, combines soft rock, gospel, soul and R&B to create an original soundtrack of the city. Lili-Anne Brown’s affectionate, original vision of this tale of self-discovery is as delightful and hilarious as when it first hit Broadway in 1975, winning seven Tony Awards. A film version, a Broadway revival and even a recent televised production can’t diminish the splendor of the piece and the glory and wonder of this terrific cast. Just Ease on Down the Road and enjoy a couple entertaining hours with a gutsy little girl, her fabulous friends and a bunch of flying funky monkeys and Winter will be all but forgotten."
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...Audiences will adore Kokandy's take on The Wiz. It's brimming with quality and entertainment from tip to tail, so ease on down to Theatre Wit."
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Ian Rigg



Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...While many a musical production in the Belmont Theater District get their sizzle by bringing big Broadway scale productions down to almost touch them theater size, The Wiz might be a bit stifled in this small theater environs. The talent in this production is so super-sized it could easily hold court in Soldier Field."
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Amy Munice



In The Loop Magazine- Recommended

"...There are some problems with 'The Wiz' as a musical - William F. Brown's book is weak, and the pacing is a tad inconsistent - but Kokandy's terrific ensemble more than overcomes those minor shortcomings. As Dorothy, Charles is plucky and likable, with a big, powerful voice that soars through Charlie Smalls' songs. Alise is utterly delightful as Addaperle. And Gilbert Domally, Chuckie Benson, Frederick Harris, and Nicole Michelle Haskins are very entertaining as the Scarecrow, Lion, Wiz, and Evillene (the Wicked Witch of the West). Additionally, Virginia Varland's costume design is first rate, and Breon Arzell's choreography (especially during "Everybody Rejoice") is engaging."
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Peter Thomas Ricci