At the end of the first act at the April 23 dress rehearsal for Sunnyvale Community Players’ “The Wiz,” Edward Clark (Tin Man) delivered a moving and heart-stirring solo, “What Would I Do If I Could Feel.”
“Being in ‘The Wiz’ means reliving a piece of my childhood,” Clark said. “When I was a kid, I used to watch ‘The Wiz’ [on TV] over and over again. I can’t recall other black musicals.”
Clark’s song is one of many ear-catching pieces that the show’s accomplished cast members performed. Set to a Motown groove with the rich sounds of rock and soul, “The Wiz,” tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” with humor and wit.
As Sunnyvale Community Players celebrates its 50th anniversary, the show’s organizers are going all out with “The Wiz,” which runs through May 19.
“We cast this show a year ago because our performers are so talented that their calendars fill up a year ahead,” said Ramesh Krishnan, Show Producer.
“When you want to do something big, you want to bring back the original size orchestra that was on Broadway in the 70s,” said Kevin Surace, Music Director. “This show is from 1974. The show was written for a 23 piece orchestra and we’re performing this with all 23 pieces. Half the 23 musicians are under the stage and the other half are in the wings. If you’re in the wings, you can’t be seen by the audience but you can be heard.
“Motown has a groovy rock sound and has been around for 50 years,” continued Surace. “This music style came out of Detroit. It’s called Motown for Motor Town, where General Motors is based.”
Other music performed at the dress rehearsal included Chantaine Tina Fauntleroy’s (Aunt Em) comforting “The Feeling We Once Had,” Smita Patibanda’s (Dorothy) wistful “Soon As I Get Home,” and the cast’s upbeat “Ease On Down the Road.” Evan-Joelle (The Wiz) introduced himself with flamboyance in “Meet the Wizard.” Juanita Harris (Evilene) showed a fiery disposition while singing “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.”
“The show is special to me because it represents an era in African American history when African Americans were able to culturally branch out, which was the 1970s,” said Gary Stanford Jr., Show Director. “For example, voguing (movement of hands), hip hop culture, and the disco era, with the Soul Train TV show — which was one of the first big soul dance shows — all this are part of ‘The Wiz’ and pays tribute to the 1970s.”
Sunnyvale Community Players is located at 550 E. Remington Dr. in Sunnyvale. Visit www.sunnyvaleplayers.org for more information.