Somewhere over the rainbow. No, scratch that. Rip the sweet tune, add a bit of guitar and more spunk, and you’ll have “The Wiz.” Robert E. Lee High School’s latest production is the pop version of “The Wizard of Oz,” with songs that leave you dancing in your seat rather than staring dreamily off into space.
Ellie Mosser (Aunt Em) opened the show with a sweet song about her love for her niece. In addition to her singing talents, Mosser also headed makeup, managed to design distinct makeup for the different characters, despite doubling of parts and quick costume changes.
The quartet of main characters — Dorothy (Jackie Southee), Scarecrow (Johnee Wilson), Tinman (Alex Anastasia) and Lion (Johnny O’Malley) — played off each other well. Despite the fact that the microphones often made it difficult to hear the characters, their enthusiasm kept the songs alive.
As the Scarecrow, Johnee Wilson was of particular note. Her floppy motions in the beginning of the show — including an impressive display of the splits — matched with her character. Her comedic timing, coupled with a good voice, made her always easy to watch.
But by far the most amusing was Evillene (Jasmine Coles), the Wicked Witch of the West. She had her own version of motivational speaking; screaming “Shut up!” repeatedly at the top of her voice. Her commanding power was reminiscent of Darth Vader, minus the mask and manly voice. While her workers quaked in fear, the audience laughed at the on-stage antics.
The costumes — headed by Julie Clark and Kelsey Mihaloew — were distinctive and colorful, and very much in the spirit of the show. There was clearly quite a bit of effort put into the design of each character’s outfit.
Sound problems were prevalent throughout the show, but the actors kept their cool and didn’t react, staying in character the entire time. The cast was quite obviously enjoying themselves throughout the production. It’s quite the journey, and Lee High School takes the audience along with them. Just be sure to follow the Yellow Brick Road, and watch out for those flying monkeys.
You can catch Lee High School's, "The Wiz," this weekend, on Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m.
Cappies is a high school critics and awards program involving 50 schools in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas.