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Tuesday, April 25

The Wiz
On Wednesday 22nd March I went to see a school production of The Wiz. This is a retelling of the story of the wizard of Oz, but done with ostensibly black music. The movie of this musical had Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in it. It's motown-style funky 70's sort of a thing. I don't know the exact name of the style, but you're getting the idea.

Perhaps one question is why I went to see a school play. Have I tired of the production values of the West End and decided to go minimalist? Or maybe my girlfriend's sister is a teacher and had helped with the costumes. I'll let you guess.

Given that I've seen a lot of musicals, have performed in a few, and am generally quite opinionated on what makes a good performance/show/experience, I think a few people in the group of us who went were a bit worried about what I'd make of it all. Unfortunately, I can be judgemental in a way which seems harsh and unfair. However, I'm not a monster (really, I'm not) and I know that a school play is hardly going to be Les Miserables... unless they're doing the Les Miserables schools edition, which they weren't.

Anyway, the evening was spent quite enjoyably. A few highlights:
  • The headset microphones some of the cast were wearing, which made them look like they were working in a call centre while not on stage.
  • The performance of the scarecrow - a lad who is an definite natural and held the room in rapture
  • The band - the music teacher and three lads, who played very well and had a great rapport between them
  • Some witty choreography
  • The little kid who did everything in an adorable way
  • The little kid who looked bewildered and out of time with the steps in the big numbers - every school play needs one
Of course, if there are going to be some highlights, there should also be some low-lights:
  • Next time, pick a leading lady who can sing...
  • ...and act
  • ...and not be so fat
  • Tell some members of the cast the following - "You're a white schoolkid from Reading. You are NOT Maria Carey, and American Accents Don't Have To Sound Black
  • Trying to sell a DVD of the performance breaks more copyright laws than are worth it
I enjoyed the show in context. My expectations were set at a sensible level for a school production. They'd all worked hard. I did go on eBay and buy the DVD of the movie, which I'll watch at some point to see how it should have sounded/looked. I think I was aided in my enjoyment of the performance by the fact that I'd never seen any of the show before or heard any of its music. Had they done something I was familiar with, I might have felt differently.

Mind you, if a school ever decided to put on The Phantom Of The Opera I'd definitely go along and see it!


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