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THE WIZ

Teatro San Diego brought its second live theatre performance to stage this past weekend with THE WIZ. The ambitious musical featured a talented cast with impressive vocals, and showcased the vision and promise of this burgeoning theatre company.

The cast of Teatro San Diego's THE WIZ at Diversionary Theatre. Picture by Katherine Rose Photography
The cast of Teatro San Diego’s THE WIZ at Diversionary Theatre. Picture by Katherine Rose Photography

The show’s fabulous foursome included Dorothy (Cierra Watkins) who finds herself in OZ after a storm, who quickly befriends Scarecrow (Javoin Simmons), Tinman (John Wells III), and Lion (Kevin “Blax” Burroughs). Addaperle (Eboni Muse) is the first witch Dorothy encounters in OZ, and she tells Dorothy to find the Wiz (Moiro Konchellah) who can help her get home. So Dorothy and her friends “ease on down the road”, following a very clever personification of the road in dancer Justine Elise Banal who guides them on their journey.

Directed by Chadaé Nichol,who made her directorial debut as part of the Artist Metamorphosis Initiative sponsored by Subaru of El Cajon kept the show and the emotions well paced, She made sure everyone utilized the stage to great effect, and kept wisely knew when to pull back in between high energy moments for more subdued by meaningful character moments.

The trio of witches were standouts, Muse has great vocals and the comedic chops as the slightly ditzy Addaperle, ShaNyeyah White is a powerful singer and a menacing Wicked Witch of the West, and Tyrah Hunter brought warmth and heart to her Aunt EM and Glinda. I’d love to see the musical origin story of these sisters with these performers.

Scenic Design by Reiko Huffman is bright and colorful, with hints of the story in the graffiti decorating the walls. Burroughs was not only a delightfully Cowardly Lion, but also served as the Lighting designer for the show as well. Makeup by Katarina Josifov was beautiful and gave the right sense of ethereal. Choreography by Alyssa “Ajay” Junious was fun and energetic and makes great use of the stage. The ensemble

Costume Design by Bones Jones (Project Runway) is delightful, and along with costuming team of Danahi Martinez and Emily Carter, found wonderfully creative and ways to create distinct looks. Dorothy in a blue sequined jumpsuit, the witches each with their own distinct and creative costuming, and standout costumes for the dancers Steffi Carter and Emily Carter who played the crows that were both elegant and striking, and the tornado which had a wonderful sense and breadth of movement.

Choreography by Alyssa “Ajay” Junious was fun and energetic and makes great use of the stage. Jerrica Ignacio was the music director of the 11-piece orchestra that made sure you were humming songs as you left the theatre.

Like Dorothy’s trip to OZ, Teatro’s THE WIZ may be over too soon, but promises fun and fresh takes on theatre from this company in the future.

Teatro San Diego is a new theatre company with the goal to raise the visibility of underrepresented communities on San Diego stages. To more information on them, and to support their efforts, and to see what they will be performing in the future go to teatrosandiego.org.

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