Cast receives letter from author of The Wiz

Hannah Myers | Jefferson Post The Cast of The Wiz including Renee Taylor, Jordan Mendell, Kelly Halsey, Alexia Wray, Zac Jones, Gilly Macknee, Hallie Grubb, Julia Bassett, Tiffany Christen, and Ben Watson prepare for rehearsal on Monday, June 22.

WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County Little Theatre will present The Wiz at the Ashe Civic Center, June 25-29.

The musical features a unique perspective on L. Frank Baum’s original telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

According to Producer Shane Little, The Wiz is the “soulful” version of the original story.

“It’s not your traditional Broadway show,” director Jana Greer said. “I love that it has the rock, the soul, and the gospel music. It’s brought a different group of actors to our stage.”

The 1975 Broadway adaption of The Wiz won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. Michael Jackson and Diana Ross starred in the film adaption in 1978.

“We’re getting a lot of positive response when we are talking to our friends, neighbors, and church members,” Greer said.

In addition to community support, the Jefferson Post recently received a letter from William F. Brown, the original author of The Wiz.

Brown’s wife Christina was a resident of Ashe County many years ago and also wrote additional material for the book.

In his letter, Brown wanted to reach out to the producer, cast and crew of The Wiz to wish them the best of luck.

Greer said receiving the letter was confirmation that the choice to do The Wiz was the right one.

“It’s reassuring. To do a show like The Wiz, there were a lot of questions like how are you going to pull this off, why do you think you can pull this off, and why The Wiz?” Greer said. “I wanted to try to let new talent shine with the gospel, the soul and the rock music and that letter just made me feel like I made a right choice. It felt like a kudos, a pat on the back. It felt really good.”

The cast includes Alexia Wray as Dorothy, Zac Jones as the Scarecrow, Ben Watson as the Tin Man and Gilly Macknee as the Lion. Glinda will be Erica Wrencher, Evillene will be Rachal Nave-Lewis, Addaperle will be Tiffany Christen and the The Wiz will be Renee Taylor. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry will be Edie Miller and Vernon Taylor.

The Munchkins will include Abbie Dollar, Rayna Christian, Olivia Cooper, Alicia Deardorff, Eva Gimlin, Airis Lewis, Deaken Nave-Lewis, Jaylee Shoemake, Avary Scott and Matthew Yount.

The chorus includes Julia Bassett, Baron Cooper, Melissa Edmondson, Jonathan Greene, Cassondra Greer, Hallie Grubb, Kelly Halsey, Cynthia Harless, Caitlin Hoffmann, Rachel Lee, Hanna Little, Geli Macknee, Jordan Mandrell, Les Miller, Rosalind Norman, Jared Richards, Bobbie Jo Scott, Whittney Spangler, Amanda Steele, Nathaniel Wallace and Fontrina Wray.

“I am very grateful for this cast,” Greer said. “This show would not be anywhere what it is without each one’s hard work and dedication.”

According to Greer, the cast includes actors from ages 5 to 80.

“This theater really has something special,” Greer said. “This community really comes together as a family. We take care of each other and we love each other.”

There will also be an orchestra performing during the show featuring musicians from all over North Carolina including Greensboro, Sparta and Chapel Hill.

“We’ve had a great turn out for sponsors,” Greer said. “We’ve had a handful of businesses offer sponsorship’s to help the show be successful.”

Sponsors for the show include: Boondocks Brewing, Buffalo Tavern, Emerald Mountain Realty, Everything Has A Story, Regency Properties, Smoky Mountain Barbecue and Western Carolina Eye Associates.

The Ashe County Little Theatre is an all-volunteer community based theatre group and is in need of backstage volunteers to help throughout the year with producing, lighting, sets, costumes and publicity.

Tickets for The Wiz are $16 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the Ashe Arts Center. For tickets or more information, call 336-846-2787.

Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.

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