I went to see “The Wiz: A Celebration of Music and Dance” on Wednesday at SummerStage, and it was fabulous. If you haven’t read my interview with Danni Gee, the SummerStage curator for this production, check it out for a little more background.
From the minute my friend and I arrived at Rumsey Playfield we could tell that people were excited for this special event, a true celebration of the fortieth anniversary of The Wiz on Broadway. The show was hosted by choreographer George Faison and Phylicia Rashad, a munchkin from the original cast, and when George Faison came out on the stage to open the evening, he was greeted like a rock star, with cheers and a standing ovation.
Two posts in one day — crazy, I know! But I just had to share with you this awesome interview I did with Danni Gee from SummerStage over email, about tonight’s FREE concert performance of The Wiz! No plans? I’m pretty sure reading this will make you want to come to Rumsey Playfield in Central Park — did I mention it’s free?
Tell me a bit about your role with SummerStage.
I am the Dance Curator for the festival and my role is to engage domestic and international dance companies and masterclass teachers for both Central Park and all five boroughs.
During the first weeks of my freshman year of college, my roommate turned on some music and I knew the words to every song but had no idea what the name of the band was. It was a weird feeling, right up until I put it together that this was one of the albums – or, probably, cassette tapes – my dad had played on repeat in his gray Oldsmobile when I was probably eight or nine. By the time I was a teenager he’d switched to classical in the car and I forgot about “Our House” and “Teach Your Children” and “Woodstock” and a whole bunch of other Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young songs that had imprinted on my brain at an impressionable age.
When my mom suggested last year that we go see the Carole King musical, “Beautiful”, I wasn’t too interested (sorry, Mom!) – at least until I saw Jessie Mueller and the cast perform “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” on the 2014 Tony Awards, with Carole King joining Jessie to sing “I Feel the Earth Move”. (I tried to find video but couldn’t – if someone tracks it down, please link in the comments!) I realized that these, too, were the songs of my childhood, the songs my mom loved and had played over and over, and that there was a very good chance I’d love this show that follows the story of Carole King as a young woman in NYC writing music.