No, it’s not in Kansas, nor is it in NYC; but this rendition of “The Wiz” is in good-ole Jacksonville, Florida at the Players By The Sea. It has been over 44 years since this writer had the opportunity to catch an Amtrak from Philly to NYC, in order to see the original production of “The Wiz”; featuring Stephanie Mills, Mabel King & Phylicia Rashad. Today the privilege comes once again through the dynamic stage performance from PBTS. If you’ve seen this representation before, you will not be disappointed, and if you’ve never had the experience, you will be thoroughly entertained.
There is an abundance of talented actors/actresses who grace the stage for this show. Most are still in school (having to do homework, chores and get some sleep); some work every day (taking care of themselves and family members); yet they sing, remember lines and dance impeccably. Even though there are no large movable props, the actors’ makeup, the background and other visuals (trees, poppy fields, monkeys etc.). This writer had a smile on her face for the entire evening.
Please allow me to give a shout-out to a few of the phenomenal cast members of “The Wiz”. Samantha Nelson (Dorothy) can sing, gyrate down the road, and act with the best of any older actor. This young lady is a mere freshman at a local high school. Samantha also speaks volumes with her beautiful expressive eyes. Sherrod Brown (The Wiz) is a very animated on stage with all of his lines. J’Quan Jarrell (Scarecrow), Juquan Vickers (Tinman), and Tyvin Mcswain (Lion) fill some gigantic shoes in portraying their characters - well done gentlemen! Zoe Bell (Addaperle) kept a smile on my face. You’ve got to read the program and not just judge a book by it’s cover, especially with Michael Clifton whose makeup is perfectly done for his character and accolades for his wonderful singing.
There are 6 background Wiz singers (Jade Higgs, Chantel Hatton, Kanesha Frederick, James Webb, & John White) who compliment the actors on stage. Their harmony is phenomenal! The music for the entire show is provided by a young talented ten-piece band (Carson Smisek, Adrienne Bell, Ihlanm Martinez, Marissa Alvarez, Alexander Hernandez, Luis Ocasio LaChelle Bruno, Meghan Ramsey, Mackenzie Jackson & Gena Fitzpatrick).
Special shout-out to DeWitt Cooper and assistant choreographer Arielle Bryant in creating the wonderful footwork for the main cast, ensemble and the children. The amount of sweat that some of the dance number produced will probably accounts for some weight loss over the weeks of this presentation.
This whole production is the dreamchild of director Jereme Raickett who is an integral member of Players By The Sea. You may have seen his work over the years from Boleros Dance Studio and also the Alhambra Theatre & Dining. Don’t forget to take a look at the artwork of Erin Kendrick in the PBTS lobby and get your tickets for “The Wiz” before they run completely out.
Sat., Sept. 28, 2019 8 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 29 2 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 3 8 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 4 8 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 5 8 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 6 2 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 10 8 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 11 8 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 12 8 p.m.
TICKETS: General Admission tickets are $28. Students, seniors and military can get theirs for $25. Thursday nights are Student Nights! Bring a valid student ID to the theatre and get a half-price ticket for $14.
LOCATION: Players By The Sea Theatre
106 6th Street North
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250