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Home arrow Reviews arrow Reviews By Scott arrow Reviews By Scott arrow Ease On Down the Road to San Antonio for 'The Wiz'
Ease On Down the Road to San Antonio for 'The Wiz' PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Scott Lewis   
Jul 16, 2011 at 09:26 PM

I met a guy about a month ago when he was in town visiting relatives and he and I have been in constant contact since by phone as he lives in McAllen, and I in Dallas.  We decided to meet in San Antonio for a couple days R&R and getting to know each other.  I was delighted to learn he likes theater so I contacted the Carver Cultural Center for a pair of tickets to opening night of The Renaissance Guild's Production of The Wiz.  This show offered me a unique opportunity, as I was attending opening night of Dallas Theater Centers Production of the same show the following Friday.

The Renaissance Guild is a gem of an organization that presents a unique product.  This is an African American created organization that celebrates the black experience through theater.  They believe that the African American experience extends beyond oppression and many of their productions show that we are all a lot more alike than we care to admit.  The facet I find most interesting about this group is their radical inclusion and their recasting of traditionally white theater with an all are welcome, people are people kind of attitude.

The Wiz is not an all Black cast, albeit primarily.  This organization is proud to proclaim their open doors to anyone who wants to join their mission.  I have to say I would have loved to have seen their production of Steel Magnolias, I am seeing Liz Mykel as Ouiser.

The Wiz is the African American retelling of The Wizard of Oz.  The Wiz is innovative theater. A large part of what is so interesting about this play is that important parts of the story for example the tornado and the yellow brick road are represented by interpretive dancers.  Likewise the poppy field is a quartet of young dancers.  It was refreshing to see the sets literally come to life.

I have to spotlight the voice of Michelle Burnett as Aunt Em.  Danielle King as Evillene is great fun, and Edward Lawrence Burkley IV as the Lion is a blast, I am not sure how much of his hamming it up was scripted and how much was spur of the moment, but it was great fun.

With my focus in recent times on big budget theater, I had forgotten how enjoyable Community theater can be.  What made this show so enjoyable is the passion you can see in the actors.  Young Aaron Tapia, a sixteen year old member of the company was so enthusiastic in everything he did on stage, it made me smile.  I can see this kid in ten years starring on Broadway telling how at eighteen he loaded his car with all he could and with a few hundred bucks headed for the Great White Way.

This contagious enthusiasm is what I enjoyed most, it is fun to see people enjoy what they are doing, and what these people are doing is not only fun to behold, they are doing good.  The show leaves us with the message that if we believe in ourselves our dreams will come true.  This is a message that was successfully delivered to all in attendance, and more importantly I believe is being delivered through the work of this group to the people we got to see onstage.

As I mentioned I also  was to attend opening night to see 'The Wiz' at Dallas' revolutionary new Wyly Theater.  That review is to follow, but after seeing both, I can tell you this production is far and above the cost of the  ticket.  At $17-$25  a ticket, this show is a must if you are in San Antonio.

The Wiz Plays the Jo Long Theater at the  Carver Community Cultural Center through July 24th.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.  Visit  therenaissanceguild.org for more information on this worthwhile organization.

User Comments

Comment by Tatyana on 2012-11-29 14:55:11
Aloha,Experienced your Live in Theater The Ryan Case last night . What a Bast, comical and insreetting time I had. I had never even heard of it till my friend Joanne suggested it! I am so glad we did it. Your actors were all engaging, superb and believable..You should bring your show to Kauai, Hawaii!Thank you for such a memorable night!

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