For Theatre Macon Director Jim Crisp, Christmas means making a big choice: musical or comedy. This year, he chose musical in the form of “The Wiz,” a jazzy retelling of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“There were several important factors that went into selecting this show,” Crisp said. “This is the first musical we ever did. In 1986, we were able to cast white and black actors on stage together, which had not been done to any significant degree in Middle Georgia.”
“Now, 20 years after our last performance,” Crisp said, “we have a large and talented pool of black actors, many of whom have expressed an interest in this show. We have a phenomenally talented cast, with many exceptional voices, that really bring it to life.”
The success of “The Wiz” comes down to the music.
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“The genius of this show is in the music. It won all of the Tony Awards the year it came out, and 40 years later, it still carries an incredible impact,” he said.
Crisp admitted that the recent television performance of the show also helped him decide it was time for “The Wiz” to return to the Theatre Macon stage.
“While I thought that the recent televised performance was good, overall, I thought that the casting was off and it wasn’t as effective as a live theater performance,” he said. “It’s not the same when it’s not in the theater, sharing the audience space and receiving the electric exchange between performer and audience. It convinced me that there is time to bring this show back.”
Crisp admitted the show has a timeliness about it as well.
“This is a timely story for all of us. It’s a dangerous world. There are dark forces at work and we are all longing to get back to that place that we fondly remember as ‘home.’ Although there are a few new characters and definitely a different spin on the familiar story, at its heart, ‘The Wiz’ is the story of Dorothy trying to get home,” he said. “This is an enduring tale that means something personal to everyone who witnesses this story. The idea that a sudden event takes you away from home, and you spend so much time trying to get home, is a powerful story that is embedded in the human DNA.”
In the holiday spirit, it wouldn’t be a great Christmas season show without spreading some cheer.
“This is a joyful show that will really put a smile on people’s faces. We have an amazing production team who has outdone themselves. I am confident that people will love what they see,” Crisp said.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 2-3, 9-10; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and 11
Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.
Cost: $25 adults, $20 seniors (60 and up), $15 children/students through age 22. Special student rush tickets available for Dec. 8 performance only: $10 at the door with a valid Student ID.