Black History Month: The Wiz

Up until now, I’ve reviewed only movies with black directors, but I’m making an exception today because although Sidney Lumet directed The Wiz, it’s one of the few all-black musicals and was a big deal on its release in 1978. Transferred from the stage to the screen in what was then the most expensive musical production ever, the film was shot on location in New York and in studio space in Queens, and it starred Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. Forty years after its release, the movie doesn’t stand out as one of the great musicals committed to film, but it does have many wonderful numbers and a great cast.
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New Centerstage Review Up

Gorilla Tango hosts a dizzying array of bare-bones theater troupes, which put on any number of energetic shows every year. Some of them are great, some of them not so much, but they’re always done with passion. And they’re cheap, too! I recommend Gorilla Tango in general. And I’ll recommend the latest show I saw there: a musical parody called Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical. The writers of the show said they wanted to cross the sitcom with Sweeney Todd, and that’s about right. Here’s an excerpt from my play review:

It’s not spoiling anything to say that this is one bloody show. Within the first five minutes, we learn that Danny (Rob Speer) commemorates the anniversary of his wife’s death by finding and killing a drunk driver. Joey (Gorton) and Jesse (James Dolbeare) help him out in return for having a free place to stay, and the kids stay blissfully ignorant. That is, until Danny loses it one night during a Life Lessons moment and claims more than one victim.

You can read the rest of the review here. You do have to be comfortable with Michelle cussing up a storm, and with someone meeting a messy end every other scene. But the lyrics are clever, the performances enthusiastic, and the run time an hour. Enjoy!