‘The Wiz’ will make the finale to SCP’s 50th season sparkle

By Ande Jacobson

Sunnyvale Community Players (SCP) is pulling out all the stops to close its 50th season. In honor of this auspicious occasion, SCP is mounting a massive production of The Wiz running from 27 April through 19 May 2019. The show isn’t often done, though it tells a familiar story that L. Frank Baum first wrote in 1900 in his children’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. There have been numerous treatments of his story in film, on stage, and even in print since then, but The Wiz is unique. It is the MoTown version of the story first seen in Maryland in 1974. It took its place on Broadway in 1975, and since then has enjoyed numerous revivals in Europe and the U.S. showcasing African-American culture. It follows the tale of friendship and hope, featuring Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and of course the illustrious Wiz. The good and bad witches from the original story also make their presence known. There are even flying monkeys. What’s different? The music. The tone. The energy.

This is a rockin’ R&B, gospel show that truly sparkles and brings together outstanding performers from all over the Bay Area, both acting on stage and playing in the orchestra. Songs from show the include favorites such as: Ease on Down the Road, Home, Slide Some Oil to Me, Believe in Yourself, I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday, Be a Lion, So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard, Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News, and many others.

This is a big production to conclude SCP’s first half century. Each performance will feature over 40 members in the cast and a large, 23-piece orchestra. This production also incorporates some impressive technology never used before for an SCP production.

Below are a few looks inside the production as the company works to bring this show to life.

Director/Choreographer, Gary Stanford shares his vision of the show in the following video.

Music Director, Kevin Surace loves this show and is determined to recreate the power of the Broadway instrumentation. He discusses what he brings to this production to make it particularly memorable.

Next is an early vocal rehearsal featuring Smita Patibanda as Dorothy.

Bay Area favorite James Creer discusses what bringing a powerful lion to life means to him.

Meet the man behind the Tin Man – Edward Clark.

Here’s a look at Dorothy understudy, Allison Joy Rondez as she prepares to reprise the role that started her love of theater.

See the full cast list here.

The production staff includes:

  • Director/Choreographer: Gary Stanford
  • Music Director: Kevin Surace
  • Vocal Director: Mary Carroll
  • Producer: Ramesh Krishnan

Surace’s 23-piece orchestra includes:

  • Keyboard: Rowland Evans;
  • Woodwinds (4 per show): Ande Jacobson, Doreen Oroshnik, Jack Stanley, Mike Maida, Marty McHan, Gordon Snyder, Jordan Selburn, Ron Bowman;
  • Brass (7 per show): (Horn, 2 per show) Ed Lacina, Joe Kelly, Fleurette Sevin; (Trumpet, 3 per show) Andy Scott, Ken Thomas, Mark Bishop, Rebecca Bishop; (Trombone, 2 per show) Don Brownson, Jason Loveman, Doug Brown;
  • Guitar: Michael Perry
  • Bass (1 per show): David Lake, Richard Lum;
  • Drums and Percussion (3 per show): Bruce Campbell, Peter Wallack, David Herberg;
  • Violin (4 per show): Nathaniel Mailoa, Ichang Hu, Jaime Yuen, Marilyn Anderson, Faye Yang;
  • Cello (2 per show): Peggy Liu, Yu-Ting Wang, Lynda Bloomquist

In Surace’s zeal to recreate the massive MoTown sound of the original production, his orchestra won’t all fit in the pit. To accommodate such a large instrumental ensemble in the theater, the keyboard, reeds, and brass will be in the pit, while the strings, drums, and percussion will inhabit the wings playing toward the actors on stage. The result will be a beautiful, bountiful sound that will have audiences dancing in their seats.

Tickets are available online through the Sunnyvale Community Players website or by phone at 408-733-6611. Again, the show runs Thursdays – Sundays, 27 April – 19 May 2019.

Performances will be at the Sunnyvale Community Theatre located at: 550 E. Remington Dr., Sunnyvale CA 94087.

Note that you can receive a 20% discount if you use the code “Elsa” when ordering tickets.

Please join Sunnyvale Community Players for this production. You will be glad you did.


References:
The Wiz / The Wiz Live! Musical Double Feature
The Wiz – The Super Soul Musical: Original Cast Album (1975 Broadway Cast)

(Photo and videos courtesy of Sunnyvale Community Players)


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