Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 16th 2014 Contents B9
Thursday, October 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Proscenium Theatre Company will premiere The
Wiz, based on L Frank Baum s The Wonderful Wiz-
ard of Oz on November 6, at Queen s Hall, St Ann s.
The production will be reprised on November 7 to
9 at the same venue.
Proscenium director Andrew Seepersad said:
"Mervyn (de Goeas) and I chose this show in February
2014 because we wanted to highlight the impact that
Geoffrey Holder made as a Trinidadian on the inter-
national stage. His designs and direction of the show
was anchored in our Carnival street theatre---telling
powerful stories through costuming and movement.
As a people, we should be so proud of his body of
work and should celebrate that one of our own was
awarded one of the highest accolades for theatre.
Additionally, we have the opportunity to further Mr
Holder s work.
"Staying true to his initial intent---we can update
his references and bring the show into a modern set-
ting. This allows us to create the Trini version without
affecting the integrity of the original work. Through
design, direction and music---we will use the piece
to connect to our audience in a new way. We feel
particular passionate about honouring Mr Holder s
work given his recent passing. We really want to cel-
ebrate his legacy and contribution to the Arts."
De Goeas said: "The timing of this work is serendip-
itous, especially as we didn t even know that Mr
Holder was ill. At one point some time ago we even
approached Mr Holder s management to try to get
Local production of The Wiz to honour Holder
him to come to Trinidad to participate
in this production. There has never
been a full scale production of this work
locally. We only got news that Mr Hold-
er wasn t well when we got news of
his passing on Sunday (October 5). But,
it is what it is and the show will go on.
At this stage I am very happy and proud
to be a part of it, specifically for the
Geoffrey Holder connection."
In October 1975, The Wiz---a com-
plete re-imagining of the classic The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz---opened to
wide critical acclaim on Broadway. It
was a breath of fresh air on the theatre
scene. The production featured an all-
African American cast with music that
referenced heavily from that culture:
jazz, rhythm and blues, motown and
gospel. The costumes, designed by
Holder, were heavily influenced by his
The Wiz was so highly regarded that
it went on to win seven Tony Awards
including Best Musical, Best Original
Score, Best Direction and Best Costume
Design. About the creative process for
the production, Seepersad said: "The
costumes for our production of The
Wiz will build on Mr Holder s vision.
We will be utilising our innate Carnival
talents and artisans to incorporate local
elements into the design without being
"For instance, the standard character
of the winged monkey will be a version
of a Moko Jumbie; the Scarecrow a ver-
sion of a Pierrot Grenade; and, the Evil
Witch a version of the Baby Doll.
"Beyond the initial design, the cos-
tume construction will utilise Carnival
elements, like wire-bending, cane-
working and beading. We will also be
using modern jewelry makers to create
accessory pieces. The intent is to bring
The Wiz to our T&T audience with a
contemporary urban Carnival texture,
while still holding strong to our roots."
Seepersad continued: "As far as dance
is concerned this is one area where we
intend to fully use our artistic license.
We will be incorporating our heritage
into the choreography, inclusive of ele-
ments of bélé, stilt dancing, the Tobago
Jig, all to be referenced.
"We want the cho-
reography to be fluid and dynamic---
so although we will be using a profes-
sional choreographer, we will be work-
shopping the cast to see what they can
create and bring into the forum. We
will take this internationally acclaimed
work and create something new, vibrant
and completely Trinidadian and Tobag-
A third component of the production,
music is being treated in a special way.
"The original score drew reference from
the African-American culture in the
1970s which has similar origins to
calypso," said Seepersad.
"We ve been work-shopping with
the soloists and musicians to be able
to perform the music comfortably in
our own voice and within the context
of our own culture."
(Reporting by Peter Ray Blood)
Klye Richardson as
Jeannine Clarke who
plays The Wicked
Witch of the West.
PHOTO: SEGRID CARTER
Founded in 2011, Proscenium
Theatre Company has since
presented three successful
productions: Rent, Rabbit Hole and
Little Shop of Horrors. The company
is run by Andrew Seepersad, a
finance professional with strong
theatre ties. Proscenium's in-house
director is Cacique award winner
Mervyn de Goeas.
Most recently, they co-directed
the opening and closing segments
for the 2014 Dimanche Gras show.
Choreography for the show is by
Linda Pollard-Lake, dance veteran
who was given the Vanguard Award
at the recently concluded Coco
The Wiz: Main characters
• Michaillean Taylor -- The Wiz
• Tishanna Williams -- Dorothy
• Maurice Morancie -- Tinman
• Kevin Humphrey -- Lion
• Aurora Tardieu, Karen Francisco
and • Jeannine Clarke -- Three
• Klye Richardson and Justin
Zepherine -- alternating as
Scarecrow and Lord High Underling
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