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March 6, 2007 > CSU East Bay's The Wiz

CSU East Bay's The Wiz

By Charlotte Hill

Many people spend their childhoods dreaming of visiting the Emerald City. Their hearts are touched by friendly, cheerful munchkins and the simple lesson that "there's no place like home." But little do they know, it has rapidly transformed into a completely different world.

In The Wiz, a modern adaptation of Frank L. Baum's classic children's book, witches host talk shows and flying monkeys hold break dancing competitions. Even the field of poppies has something up its sleeve. But there is more to this wonderful musical than wacky scenarios, although those are enough to warrant buying a ticket. The Wiz offers its audience a heartfelt message, one of appreciating diversity and, as the Wiz himself states, learning to "embrace what we really fear - ourselves."

CSU East Bay's cast and crew have put together an incredibly entertaining production of The Wiz. The actors play their roles to perfection, nailing each song and eliciting laughter from the engrossed audience. In her hip-hop lament, "I was Born on the Day Before Yesterday," Shawna Darling wins over the crowd with her hilarious "valley girl" portrayal of the brainless Scarecrow. Jermaine Alexander, the Tin Man sans a heart, shows off his smooth moves in "Slide Some Oil to Me." And no one can help but fall for Adam Rabinovitz, the "Mean Ole Lion," who attributes his tough exterior to growing up without a father. Other notable performances include Hannefah Hassan-Evans as Addaperle, the attention-loving witch of the North, and Reggie White as the Wiz, a power-loving magician in a fur coat. And, of course, Netanjea Robinson offers a standout performance as Dorothy; her soulful rendition of "Home" is the perfect ending to a thoroughly enjoyable show.

The rest of the talented cast takes on multiple roles, from emulating a whirling tornado to waiting hand and foot on Evillene, the bad witch played by Caitlin O'Leary. Darryl V. Jones provides excellent direction, and the lighting and sound crews use their skills to help create Oz's magical atmosphere.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling (510) 885-3261. For more information, contact Diane Daniel at (510) 885-3183 or diane.daniel@csueastbay.edu.
The Wiz
Sat., March 3 at 8 p.m.
March 9, 10 at 8 p.m., March 11 at 2 p.m.
University Theatre
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd, Hayward
(510) 885-3261
Tickets: General $14; youth and senior $10; CSUEB students $8

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