Saturday, October 19, 2013

MT Soundtracker: Day 19

The Wiz (1974)

Original Cast Recording (1975)

Music & Lyrics: Charlie Smalls (others also contributed with additional music and lyrics)

Synopsis: The Wiz is a musical adaptation of Frank L. Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Dorothy ends up in the land of Oz after a tornado and embarks on a journey to see the Wizard in order to get back home. On the way she picks up the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion all of whom also want something from the Wizard. 


Whenever The Wizard of Oz is mentioned, most people think of the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. I think the association of the title to that film is even stronger than the association with the original novel. Therefore, it is easy to forget that the musical film is only one take on the classic children's book. The Wiz (full title: The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz") puts the story into an African American context and the score is, as the title suggests, based on soul music. Some of the songs can be directly paired up with numbers from the 1939 film version as there are no alterations in terms of the plot. For example Ease On Down the Road serves the same purpose as We're Off to See the Wizard as reprises take place throughout the journey to enhance continuity. Out of all the songs in the show, this song became the most well-known. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion each have their own song too (I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday, Slide Some Oil to Me and I'm a Mean Ole Lion respectively) which are located in the same place in the story as in the above-mentioned film version 


The Wiz, when performed professionally, is usually performed with an all-black or mostly black cast. The original Broadway production in 1975 was significant for the African American culture as it was a big-budget production and allowed later the emerging of of other musicals in similar style such as Dreamgirls. The Broadway production ran for four years and received several Tony Awards. However, there has not been a production nearly as successful since.
A film version of the musical was released in 1978 starring singer Diana Ross as Dorothy. Michael Jackson played the Scarecrow. 

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