Last Chance To See The Wiz 2 pm Sunday March 31!
Due to my very busy event-filled schedule this past month, Saturday night (March 30) was my first and only opportunity to experience the Arts Collective Theatre (ACT) production of The WIZ at the Capitol Theatre. And what a production it is!
ACT is a not for profit organization committed to enhancing the well-being of the Windsor Essex community through theatre-based practices. Under the direction of Chris Rabideau who has been with ACT since its inception, this amazing group of talented actors and their support team has taken a quantum leap forward in the very competitive Windsor Theatrical Community.
Prior to the show, Rabideau – the artistic director of The WIZ – was joined on stage by Moya McAlister, Act’s Marketing and Publicity Director for their per functionary greetings and thank you to theatre patrons and show sponsors. In their address they highlighted that ACT is now in its fifth year in our community. Wow, has time flown by!
I have never seen the 1978 film version or stage production of The WIZ, so this was a new experience for me. But I knew enough about it to know that it is a unique adaptation of my childhood (and adulthood) favourite, Frank Baum’s “Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” set in the context of African-American culture.
This performance by ACT is one of those unique experiences where every performance, all the lighting, sound, dancing, singing, costumes, make up, hairstylists, the live orchestra, absolutely nailed it. Yes, the performances by the leads captivate, but do so supported by and excellent ensemble of young and old alike. This group is passionate about their work, and it shows. So, in the limited space I have here, I am not going to highlight one performer over another. As in your troupe’s name – you are a ‘collective’, a collective of fine actors who transformed the stage for a two hour show into a magical place we all need to escape to occasionally.
Gone are those pesky technical gremlins from some of ACT’s earlier shows. ACT has matured and morphed into a troupe that could easily be mistaken for a national touring group. Rabideau’s trademark minimal stage construction had me swept up in the tornado with Dorothy in the old Kansas farm house.
Rabideau has assembled an A-team of ‘mentors’ who guide many of the first-time performers into the magical world of make believe. Again, I will not identify them by name; check out the show’s playbill for the impressive talent guiding the talent.
I must admit I was a bit apprehensive attending this show. Knowing that it is an adaptation of one of my beloved classics, I feared that it would not – and could not – do justice to the original Wizard of OZ. I was wrong – very wrong. By the end of this performance I was willing to trade in the ruby red slippers in my closet, for a pair of those shiny silver pumps. We all need a little more magic in our lives!
The final performance of The WIZ is Sunday afternoon, March 31st. at the Capitol Theatre at 2 pm.