Jason Robinson wants Fulton County residents far and wide to follow the yellow brick road to this weekend to Wauseon High School.
The musical director is presenting “The Wiz” Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. in the school theater. A modernized version of “The Wizard of Oz,” it was a seven-time Tony award winner on Broadway in 1975, including for Best Musical.
Robinson, his assistant Amanda Aniolowski, Chorale director James Vaughn, and Orchestra director Don Clark are bringing Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Wizard to the stage in a production Robinson said will make the community proud.
“I wanted to do something that was fun and family-friendly, but I also wanted to pick something that was a blend between familiar and modern, and ‘The Wiz’ was the best choice for that. This is a show everyone has expressed an interest in, and everyone wants to see succeed,” he said.
“This show, above everything else I have ever done at Wauseon, incorporated the greatest community effort of the high school,” Robinson said. The Art Club helped with building specialized set pieces, the Video Production class contributed special effects, and teachers and community members volunteered their services.
A cast of over 60 students will include 45 from the school district’s grades 3-8. With the orchestra and technical and stage crews involved, almost 100 people will work to bring the production to life.
“It’s a jazzed-up version of “The Wizard of Oz,” Robinson said. “It’s a mixture of rock, gospel, and soul music.”
But you won’t hear Dorothy singing about the rainbow or the Scarecrow about a brain. “The Wiz” offers a completely different set of songs.
“It’s one of the things that I like. The songs are different enough that they grab everyone’s interest,” Robinson said.
Auditions were held in December, and the cast has rehearsed since January.
Robinson said the leads all bring something special to their roles.
Senior Paige Moden, who plays Dorothy, “is the most well-rounded actress that we have,” he said. “Paige has a strong presence. She was the most obvious choice for the part.”
He said freshman Uzziah DeLaCruz, who plays the Wiz, brings a unique energy to the production. “He’s phenomenal. As a freshman, he has some very strong theatrical instincts, and no inhibitions whatsoever,” Johnson said.
He called senior Conner Johnson, who plays the Scarecrow, “maybe our best singer, and the part is extremely vocally demanding. But his personality fit very well with the character.”
Junior Alex Guerrero, as the Tin Man, is probably the most well-rounded performer in terms of singing, acting, and dancing, Johnson said. “He just has this ability to draw the audience in and get them to cheer for him.”
And junior Hunter Mattin as the Cowardly Lion simply nailed his audition, the director said, adding, “He had us laughing in our seats from the moment he opened his mouth. And he has very good instincts about physical comedy.”
Other lead players include Maggie Carder as Aunt Em, Colton Blanton as Uncle Henry and Winged Monkey, Kaylei Satowski as Addaperle, Kamron Goolsby as Gatekeeper, Jaslyn Johnson as Evillene, Anias Thompason as Lord High Underling, Reece Meeler as Messenger, and Haleigh Wurst as Glinda.
Robinson said “The Wiz” is not to be missed. “People are going to be talking about this show awhile,” he said.
Tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens, $10 for adults. For information, call 419-335-5756.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.