Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

The Wiz
CMSD All City Musical
Review by Review by Mark Horning

Also see Mark's review of Outside Mullingar

Malcolm White, Clairissa Walker, Kodee Williams,
and Coley Banks

Photo Courtesy of All City Musical
As the fall semester began in 2016 word was sent out to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District notifying all students that open tryouts were being held for the All City Musical production of The Wiz. In all, 130 hopefuls showed up for the auditions and 40 students were chosen to play the roles that include everyone from Dorothy to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the various witches, citizens of Munchkinland and Emerald City.

Meeting on a regular basis, this “best of the best” endured hour after hour and day after day of rehearsals until the show was as perfect as could be humanly possible. An extravagant multi-tiered set was constructed and professional lighting and sound were designed, bringing a Broadway-like quality to this exceptional performance. The orchestra is made up of various local professional musicians and supplemented with talented musicians from the various local schools that are part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

With a cast of unknowns (outside of the school district) from area schools, you might not expect much from this show, but you would be totally wrong. To begin with, the show is being staged in the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square which has one of the best sound and lighting systems in Northeast Ohio. The cast has strenuously rehearsed over and over until each song, line of dialog and dance step is perfect. The orchestra is in top form and the costuming and set designs are a sheer delight.

At the morning production open to students of the school district the show had audience members singing along, dancing along, and laughing along at the little jokes tucked inside the story.

Dorothy lives with her Aunt and Uncle in Kansas and is unhappy with her lot in life. When a tornado whisks her away to a strange and wonderful land called OZ, she begins to realize how precious her family is to her and wishes to return to them soon. She is befriended by a Scarecrow who is in search of a brain, a Tin Man in search of a heart. and a Cowardly Lion in search of courage. Together they travel to the Emerald City to meet the Wiz, whom they think can grant all their wishes. In this version, each member of the quartet has something that the other member lacks. While short on brains, the Scarecrow has optimism, hope, and a heart. The Tin Man displays courage against all odds and the Cowardly Lion brings an air of caution to the mix, while Dorothy is the glue that holds the group together. The main theme is that of inclusion and the fact that each and every one of us has talents we can share with one another.

Come out and support this tremendous effort of very talented young actors who may well be the future stars of Broadway.

The Wiz, Ohio Theatre, Friday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 26 at 3 p.m. General Admission tickets are $15.00 each and may be purchased online by going to, by phone at 216-241-6000, or by stopping by the Playhouse Square Box Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.

Principal cast:
Dorothy: Clairissa Walker (Cleveland School of the Arts, 12th)
Wiz: Stephan Hall: (Cleveland School of the Arts, 11th)
Scarecrow: Malcolm White (Cleveland Hts. High School, 11th)
Tinman: Kodee Williams (Richmond Hts. High School, 12th)
Lion: Coley Banks (Cleveland School of the Arts, 11th)
Addaperle: Miraya Russell (Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, 9th)
Evillene: Shannon Henley (Bard Early College High School, 10th)
Glinda: Destinee Jackson (John Marshall School of Engineering, 11th)

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