Student Story: Lindenwold High School’s Production Of “The Wiz” Eases Audiences On Down The Road

By: Cassidy Driscoll, Delsea Regional High School

Students from Lindenwold High School rehearse a number for their production of “The Wiz.” Photo credit: Lindenwold Theatre Instagram page.

LINDENWOLD, N.J. — You may think you know all about Dorothy and her journey through Oz, but Lindenwold High School’s magical production of “The Wiz” creates fun twists and differences from the classic tale, “The Wizard of Oz,” while still staying true to the heart of the story: there is no place like home.

“The Wiz” opened on Broadway in 1975 where it won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical. Then, in 1978, it was made into a movie starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. This musical was not only a fun retelling of a classic children’s story, but it also featured an all-black cast paving the way for future shows like it and opening a door for diversity in theatre.

Overall, the show impressed with its ability to draw audiences into the story from the tornado running down the aisles to the Lion’s entrance. The attention to detail was obvious from the pom poms on each munchkin costume to each piece on the Tin Man set piece.

The show follows Dorothy, played by Giselle Montoya, who is unhappy with her life in Kansas until she is transported to Oz where she realizes home is important. Montoya showed great emotional capacity and singing ability featured in songs such as “Soon As I Get Home” and “Be a Lion.”

Then, of course, there is the namesake of the show, the Wiz, played by David Bonilla-Mendoza. In a very extravagant fashion show-like introduction, we meet the Wiz and his amazing vocals in “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard,” and he continued to reach those expectations set by his entrance in numbers such as “Y’all Got It?”

Along her journey, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, who are all in need of something. Played by Isaiah Castro, Sanya Johnson, and Michael Gomez-Cruz respectively, each of these actors brings their own comedy and physicality to the roles. Johnson had great vocal control and showed a wide range of abilities throughout her numbers from the fun introduction of “Slide Some Oil Into Me” to the jazzy “What Would I Do If I Could Feel.” Victoria Obaniyi dazzled with amazing vocals as Aunt Em/Glinda.

Technically speaking, this show was beautiful. From the sets to the costumes to the lights, everything helped to bring the magic to light. The yellow brick road surrounding the pit band helped bring audiences into the magical world of Oz.

The show brought magic to life and showed the power of heart, mind, courage, and home.

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