This isn’t a long review of “The Wiz”, currently playing at Toby’s Baltimore, because I don’t have much to say about it. I came into the production with little knowledge of the show or the 1970s movie. I knew that it was an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” and that is just about it. This past fall I was at the same venue for their production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. They both fall into that similar category of fun show that one would enjoy, but is never going to go down as one of the great pieces of theatre ever. And that is exactly what you get. A fun re-telling of The Wizard of Oz, with an all African-American cast. The basic story is the same as the Wizard of Oz with the same cast of characters along the way of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and the Cowardly Lion. What stood out most with this production was the quality of the cast when compared to the Joseph cast. The capabilities of this cast far outshone that of Joseph in the ability to both sing and dance and it showed. It was a well choreographed show that was an entertaining evening.
My one complaint is something that cropped up with the production of Joseph and was more acute in this production, issues with sound. For a well-established venue to now have had two experiences there where microphones are either at a level where the performers cannot be heard about the band, or in one instance where the supporting cast microphones are completely off is inexcusable. Certain characters, namely Dorothy and the Tinman had their microphones at proper levels that you could hear them all the time, but too often other characters voices were drowned out by the live music, specifically the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, amongst others. This wasn’t a preview performance, or early in a run that issues like this were cropping up and could not be fixed by a sound engineer. While it hasn’t completely scared me away from Toby’s, it is on my personal watch list going forward. I hope the issues aren’t as severe at their Columbia venue, where I will be checking out their production of Les Miserables later this summer.