The Wiz | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Wiz 

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This 1975 African-American version of The Wizard of Oz is in some ways more dated than the 1939 MGM musical: Charlie Smalls's disco score was the last note in goofy funk. But its relentless self-affirmation ("Believe in Yourself") anticipates today's glut of power ballads. Bethany Thomas's wicked witch is nothing but good news, and Craig Joseph's sassy staging for the White Horse Theatre Company detonates the dancing. This production also registers the unevenness of William F. Brown's script, which sometimes rushes the story, then bogs down. Samara Smith is a pile-driving singer but doesn't capture Dorothy's wonder or homesickness. The show's budget seems to have gone to the brassy costumes, not the sets, so you have to use your imagination. --Lawrence Bommer a Through 3/25: Thu-Fri 7 PM, Sat 2:30 and 7 PM, Sun 2:30 PM, Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252, $22-$25.

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