Tony Awards 1975, The Wiz

10 Apr

the wiz

First, forget the terrible movie version (I swear half my reviews could start this way), the Broadway show The Wiz was an incredibly gutsy show from the start.   First, we get a black musical version of what must be one of the whitest stories there is–and the music is up-to-the-moment in tune with urban music of that time.   Then, their version is the most faithful to the book The Wizard of Oz, most of the things that happen here happens in the book (while the 1939 movie changes quite a bit.)   Third, it’s one thing if they remade some other children’s story, but The Wizard of Oz is such a beloved franchise that if they did the slightest thing off you’d hear howling from New York to LA and back again.

Fortunately they pulled this off perfectly–the music is punchy, the script sly, and there’s this incredible energy that thrums from this show from the design to the actors to the sets–nothing, and I mean nothing, was more deserving of the Tony Award in 1975.

The only unfortunate thing was that this show was so Zeitgeisty that by the time the movie came out (just three years later) the music was already out-of-date.    This was lightning in a bottle–the exact right show coming out with the exact right people at the exact right time.

Unfortunately the movie has none of this charm–we’ve got Diana Ross being the worst Dorothy ever, ugly urban sprawl, and Michael Jackson already doing his creepy man-child schtick (I know there’s people who love him, but I find him disturbing.)    But let’s not let that raincloud spoil this show, which really has it all.

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