This final year production for Carshalton Collegeís relatively new HND Course in Musical Theatre was the groupís attempt to learn about staging a production as well as performing in it. They booked the director, choreographer, musical director and stage management, chose the show and the theatre, devised the marketing plan...
The Wiz is the multi award-winning Broadway musical made famous by the film starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, which turned the classic childrenís story into a wise-cracking, finger-snapping, 1970ís explosion of pop music and street slang. Though few would claim it to being the apotheosis of musical drama, its funky eccentricity has kept the show alive over three decades in amateur productions all over the world.
The Carshalton College production shrunk the show from a cast of 30+ to a cast of 11 and with a band of less than a quarter of the size intended. The cast was almost entirely female for a very male-centric piece, and the group represented a wide range of abilities and aptitudes.
To challenge the group, Benet conceived a radical new version of The Wiz to try and make sense of the huge number of limitations the production represented. The whole piece was given a framing device taking place in the present day, whereby the Wizard of Oz story would take place in the imagination of the leading girl, who would imagine she was Dorothy and that her friends and acquaintances were the various characters Dorothy meets in Oz.
Despite a couple of strong individual performances and some effective moments, the final production proved to be something of a disappointment. Inexperience in several quarters proved to let the show down, and the show suffered a colossal let-down in production week which lead to the lighting design being abandoned. That said, it was a bold attempt to stretch the capacity of the material and challenge the talents of the cast at the end of their studies and at least in these respects it is worthy of some merit.