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Toby’s Dinner Theater The Wiz

By • Mar 7th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
<"/info/the-wiz">The Wiz
Toby’s Dinner Theater: (Info) (Web)
Toby’s Dinner Theater, Baltimore, MD
Through April 28th
2:30 with intermission
$52-$57/$38 Children
Reviewed March 2nd, 2013

The story of the land of Oz has not only endured, it has thrived in a variety of formats and incarnations. The Wiz is one of those many successful incarnations, and it continues to endure in Toby’s current production. With top-notch technical elements and a powerhouse cast, this is a production that delights and enthralls.

The set is beautiful and brings to life the vibrant colors of this urban-themed Oz. The costumes are stunning and work to create a variety of unique characters. The lighting design is excellent and adds to every scene. The choreography is stellar and brings life to every musical number. The lighting and choreography work in tandem to create many fabulous scenes, most notably “Emerald City Ballet (Pssst).”

The cast starts blowing away audience expectations from the first number of “The Feeling We Once Had” with rich and soulful vocals from Aunt Em (Jesaira Glover). It almost seems that every cast member who appears tops the one before, right through to the end when Glinda (Crystal Freeman) soars in “A Rested Body is a Rested Mind” and the reprise of “Believe in Yourself.” It is truly possible that no one in the world sings as well as Freeman.

Carrying the performance throughout is an awesome quartet of leading performers. As Dorothy, Ashley Johnson just keeps getting better with every number. She has great innocence and likeability throughout and then brings it “Home” with a mature, nuanced vocal performance. As Scarecrow, Bryan Daniels is just the right mix of loveable and silly. He manages to keep a lot of over-the-top antics right beneath the line of too much. As Lion, Tobias Young is a fierce feline even as he humorously cowers in fear at everything.

The real “heart” of the production is Tinman. Marquise White is on fire with his jazzy, playful “Slide Some Oil To Me” and still manages to top that performance with the depth of emotion and vocal tone that he brings to “To Be Able To Feel.” His entire performance takes the material to new depth of spirit.

Jonathan Randle’s The Wiz is another excellent performance that just grows as it progresses, and he shatters the stage with his rousing and robust “Ya’ll Got It!.” Kelli Blackwell brings sultry diva to the role Evilene, despite getting a little winded during her number.

The principals are surrounded by a strong ensemble who take on a variety of roles throughout with zest and polished precision. So, there are no excuses to not “Ease On Down the Road” to Toby’s Baltimore location and check out this rocking production.

Cast

  • Aunt Em: Jesaira Glover
  • Dorothy: Ashley Johnson
  • Uncle Henry: Jonathan Randle
  • Tornado: Antonio Beverly, Bryan Daniels, Scean A. Flowers, Marcus Isaiah, Ana King, Ashleigh King, Parris Lacey, Nurney, Patricia Targete, Melissa Victor
  • Munchkins: Scean A. Flowers, Jesaira Glover, Marcus Isaiah, Nurney, Tierra Strickland, Patricia Target, Melissa Victor
  • Addaperle: Shayla Lowe
  • Yellow Brick Road: Antonio Beverly, Ana King, Parris Lacey
  • Scarecrow: Bryan Daniels
  • Crows: Marcus Isaiah, Ashleigh King, Nurney
  • Tinman: Maquise White
  • Lion: Tobias Young
  • Kalidahs: Kelli Blackwell, Scean A. Flowers, Marcus Isaiah, Tierra Strickland, Patricia Target, Melissa Victor
  • Poppies: Crystal Freeman, Jesaira Glover, Ana King, Ashleigh King, Shayla Lowe, Patricia Target
  • Field Mice: Antonio Beverly, Tierra Strickland, Melissa Victor
  • Gatekeeper: Ashleigh King
  • Emerald City Citizens: Antonio Beverly, Kelli Blackwell, Scean A. Flowers, Crystal Freeman, Jesaira Glover, Marcus Isaiah, Ana King, Ashleigh King, Parris Lacey, Shayla Lowe, Nurney, Tierra Strickland, Patricia Targete, Melissa Victor
  • The Wiz: Jonathan Randle
  • Evilene: Kelli Blackwell
  • Lord High Underling: Scean A. Flowers
  • Soldier Messenger: Antonio Beverly
  • Winged Monkey: Marcus Isaiah, Parris Lacey
  • Glinda: Crystal Freeman
  • Understudies: Dorothy (Melissa Victor), Scarecrow (Antonio Beverly), Tinman (Scean A. Flowers), Evilene (Ashleigh King), The Wiz (Nurney), Aunt Em, Addapearle (Tierra Strickland)
  • Swings: Ada Satterfield & Jason Philips

Production Staff

  • Director: Kevin McAllister
  • Music Director: Cedric D. Lyles
  • Choreographer: Shalyce Hemby
  • Assistant Choreographers: Marcus Isaiah, Parris Lacey
  • Scenic & Lighting Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Sound Designer: Terry L. Edwards
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Heather Williams
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Daniel Sexton, Russell Sunday, Ian Wallace
  • Properties: Amy Kaplan
  • Stage Manager: Heather Williams
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Ian Wallace
  • Light Board Operator: Heather Williams, Jeremy Garnes
  • Sound Operator: Terry L. Edwards, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Crew: Ian Wallace, Jason Sowers, Jeremy Garnes

Orchestra

  • Conductors: Cedric D. Lyles, Brant Challacombe, or Darius Smith
  • Keys 2: Brant Challacombe, James Ashe, Jr., or Ann Prizzi
  • Bass: Michael Kellam or Morgan Turner
  • Trombone: Jeff Harrigan or Jay Ellis
  • Trumpet: Craig Taylor or Frank Gorecki
  • Drums: Matt Lampart, Tom Harold, or Tarek Mohammed

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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