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Sunday, May 5, 2019


(The crew hard at work making props)

Everyone who contributed their share of creativity - from props, to set design and costuming - really made something quite spectacular together. (Review by Kamini Govender)

It was on a serene and temperate evening that I had the good fortune of seeing St Henry’s production of The Wiz. Staged outdoors, at the Marist College Amphitheatre, the still night was enlivened by the warm sounds of a live band and spun into an enchanted world .

The show is a reworking of The Wizard of Oz. It tells the tale of young Dorothy, who is transported from her home in Kansas, to a magical world of munchkins and flying monkeys. She is told that the Wizard is the only one who can help her get back home.
On her journey toward his residence in the Emerald City; she encounters a Scarecrow in need of a brain, a Tinman longing for a heart and a Lion in search of courage. They embark on the journey together, forming a friendship that guides them through their adventures to their final lesson from the good witch Glinda that - “what you wanted was in you all along”.

This fable towards selfhood was turned into the Broadway production of The Wiz. It took the 1975 Tony Award for best musical and a film version starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, and Michael Jackson as the scarecrow.

Musical director, Luke Holder, really worked wonders with his band. Recreating the vibrant sounds of Motown, which greatly influenced the musical arrangement in The Wiz.

It is a rare treat to sit outside at night and be entertained. But the simple set; consisting of a quaint house and washing line, brought back memories of pictures in a fairy tale book.

I was yet to be dazzled by the spectacular costuming and incredible, young talent. It is not an easy feat to create a piece of theatre; it takes hours upon hours of preparation and I must commend the ensemble that brought this show to the stage.

Pupils were responsible for all aspects of production; from building the set, making the props, to running front of house and backstage assistance. It took extraordinary collaboration and co-operation.

I was thrilled by the energy of the young performers; from the munchkins to Glinda’s entourage (and everyone in between) were a delight to behold.

I really was impressed by Emah Pietersen, the young actor playing Dorothy. I thought she carried the role with such sincerity, commitment and vitality. The Lion, played by Mvelo Mtembu, also stole my heart with his energy and characterization. An exceptional performance by the Wiz himself, Qhawe Mthembu. The angelic voice of Glinda the good witch, played by Rebecca Simpson, also deserves a special mention.

I felt the American accents were unnecessary as most of the play is set in a fantasy realm, it also hindered the natural young voices of the performers. The audience could extend its belief that Kansas was just past Bredersdorp. That said, it did not diminish the excellence displayed on stage.

The directors and creative assistant, Romi Schumann, Tessa Swart and Aimee Bouwer are to be greatly applauded for what they were able to achieve with a cast of over 100 students (from grade 1 - 12). Everyone who contributed their share of creativity - from props, to set design and costuming - really made something quite spectacular together.

 In a “selfie” generation, the spirit of teamwork and collaboration will surely impact the learners for years to come. And that is surely the magic we need. - Kamini Govender