The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The Wiz
Organization Stand Out Talent
Date(s) of show August 16-25, 2013
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review If you think that The Wiz needs an all-black cast to be really entertaining, think again. Jennifer Bortz of Stand Out Talent has once again worked her magic with a cast ranging from very young children to adults (including at least one entire family) to put on a high-energy show that should please everyone. And that “everyone” includes children. The night I saw the show, I’d say that one-third of the audience were under 18, with lots of very small children. I couldn’t help thinking, “These kids are going to grow up loving live theater.” Giving that gift to the children in the cast and in the audience is one of the reasons why Stand Out Talent is a community treasure.

The children in the audience might not have gotten the clever dialog and contemporary humor in this retelling of The Wizard of Oz, but they had to have been dazzled by the over-the-top costumes and make-up, especially those of the witches and Dorothy’s three “friends.” Speaking of Dorothy, it's her character that is critical to making this show work, and Madyson Mazzola delivered, with consistently good acting and the biggest singing voice you ever heard from a 13-year-old. And how about those "friends"?  The characterizations of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion – played by Ryan Knox, Craig Perra and Eddie Nason – were a delight. And I was amazed to learn that it was the first time for each of them to play a leading role. Nason, in particular, made me laugh to the point of tears.  There was humor, too, in the disembodied voice of The Wiz, performed by Jason Bortz.  It showed that you don't have to have someone to look at to experience great acting.

The ensemble numbers were a high point of this show, with its large cast. I’m not sure who was the very young man who led the singing in “Ease on Down the Road,” but his voice and charged-up personality really put that song over. Another show-stopper for me was “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” in which Sidney Raey was a wonderfully evil (and talented) Wicked Witch of the West.

The ensemble numbers, of course, highlighted the outstanding choreography (and some excellent individual dancing) of this show. Throughout the evening, I saw so many evidences of Jennifer Bortz’ creativity, but the innovative choreographic ideas were among the most interesting. (Wait till you see how the tornado was choreographed!) It’s because of all those creative touches that I’m confident in saying that you could never see The Wiz produced like this again. Check it out before this short run closes. And bring the kids: you’ll all have fun.

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