"The Wiz," a canny urban riff on the much-adapted L. Frank Baum fantasy, was a Tony-winning Broadway success in the 1970s as an all-black musical. Its sparkling Broadway at Iroquois production featuring area students in grades 8-12 proves that the show works just as well with a multiracial cast.
Though she's catapulted to the land of Oz from her Kansas farm during a twister, Dorothy displays more street smarts than rural savvy, in this version by William F. Brown.
Frances Lewis, a University of Louisville theater arts student, brings to her role as Dorothy considerable charm and a powerhouse voice.
Dorothy's three Oz friends -- Scarecrow Brad Goren, Tin Man Brandon Horrar and Lion Jermaine Brown -- who "ease on down the road" with her to ask favors of the Wiz (Denzel Edmonson) are all terrific. So is Edmonson.
Tin Man's "Slide Some Oil to Me," Scarecrow's "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday" and Lion's "Mean Ole Lion" are high spots in the score by Charlie Smalls.
William P. Bradford's fluent direction and the bursting-with-energy choreography by James Harkness propel the young actors, who all shine. Funky costumes by Wes Jenkins are eye-catching treats.
You'll marvel at Will Geoghegan's dance as a winged monkey. Geoghegan along with Eliza Castro Donahue, Sierra Stacy and Sean Sullivan morph every now and then into a magically believable yellow brick road.
In "The Wiz," Dorothy wears silver (not ruby) slippers she takes from the wicked witch. A good witch named Addaperle (Carman Napier in a star turn) cautions Dorothy never to remove them.
Determined to get back her sister's slippers is Evillene, the wicked witch of the west, played by Lisa Banks, who belts "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News."
As expected, Glinda the good witch (Gail King) tells Dorothy how to get back to Kansas. As the show closes, Dorothy is reminded by her friends that she can return to Oz simply by clicking her heels three times and thinking of them.