The Wiz

Book by William F. BrownThe-Wiz-title
Music & Lyrics by Charlie Smalls

Running for over three years on Broadway (1975-78), The Wiz won right Tony’s including ‘Best Musical’ and became a movie starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

This dazzling mix of rock, gospel and soul takes L Frank Baum’s original story and transports Dorothy, the Tinman, the Scarecrow and the Lion into a fantasy world of colourful characters and wicked witches.

Come with us and Ease on Down the Yellow Brick Road. It starts in Kansas and ends up in the Emerald City. You’ll have a ball along the way.

CAST

Sasha Hermann

SashaSasha completed a degree in Classical Studies before training in musical theatre at The Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where she played roles such as Carrie in ‘Carousel’ and Pam in ‘Baby’. Since graduating she has performed in a physical adaptation of T.S Elliots’ ‘The Wasteland’, played Alice Fitzwarren in ‘Dick Whittington’, performed in a cabaret at the Arcola Arts Theatre, played Flick in the first production of ‘Past Tense’ at The Old Red Lion and very recently performed at the New Wimbledon Studios in ‘Lucky Stiff’.

Sarah Boulton

Sarah-boultonSarah Graduated from Mountview Academy Of theatre arts with BA honours in performing Arts in 2004. Sarah went straight to the New theatre in Cardiff to appear as Belle in Only the Brave and then played Kathy Seldon in Singing in the Rain at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Sarah then went on to play Sally Bowels in The English Theatre of Frankfurt’s Production of Cabaret.

Theatre credits prior to drama school include Cecile in Dangerous Liaisons for Brigstow Theatre Company, Scrooge at the Bristol Hippodrome, a summer season with Manhattan Big Band in Torquay and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, also at The Bristol Hippodrome.

Stuart Hickey

Stuart-hickeyStuart trained at the Royal Academy of Music where he was awarded the Dip RAM for outstanding final performance, previously to that he attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

Theatre credits include Parade (Edinburgh Festival) Jesus Christ Superstar (Denmark Tour) Starlight Express (Apollo Victoria) An Evening with Carmen Miranda (Jermyn St Theatre) Royal Variety Performance (Dominion Theatre) Chance of a Lifetime (London Palladium) Television credits include Heartbeat, Grange Hill, Brasseye, he also presented Behind the Christmas Curtain for Meridian TV.

Stuart spent a couple of years working his way around the world singing on a number of Cruise Ships including the QE2.

He was lucky enough to perform with Elton John at Wembley Arena, Birmingham NEC and the Royal Albert Hall. Catherine Comeford asked him to compere Dance World at Earls Court for The Stage Newspaper. He has also had the pleasure of performing at the British Consulate-General’s house in Hong Kong.

Caroline Fox

Caroline-foxCaroline was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and raised in New Zealand where she trained at the Wellington Conservatorium of Music. Whilst there she played the lead role of Jenny in Kurt Weill’s opera Down in the Valley. After moving to the U.K Caroline trained at the London School of Musical Theatre where she co-created the lead role of Katherine in the new musical Hope. After graduating Distinction she then went on to play her first professional role as Pam Lukowski in the U.K Tour of The Full Monty. Caroline dedicates her performance to her loving family, particularly her ever supporting older brother Gavin.

Georgina Wyatt

Georgina-wyattGeorgina graduated from the London School of Musical Theatre in 2003. Prior to that she trained at the BRIT School for Performing Arts. Her credits include Frieda in ‘Hope’ at the Cochrane Theatre, vocalist at the Children’s BAFTA Awards, Scarecrow in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Cole’ and ‘Czarinas’ (both Upstairs at The Gatehouse), Dick in ‘Dick Whittington’, ‘Princess Beauty in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (tours) and Janet in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ at Lauderdale House. Georgina also produced and starred in a one-woman concert, ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ at the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton. During the summer of 2005 Georgina was fortunate to tour the Thomson Gold Hotels in Majorca with several musical variety and cabaret shows. Now with her feet firmly back on English soil she is delighted to be returning to the Gatehouse for the 4th time (!) and would like to thank her Mum, Dad, Rob and the rest of her family and friends for their continued love and support.

Andrew Fitzpatrick

Andrew-FitzpatrickAndrew trained at the BRIT school of performing arts, graduating in 2002, before going on to train at Doreen Bird College in Sidcup. Whilst at college, Andrew performed in numerous shows and musicals including leading roles in The Pirates of Penzance where he played the Major General, Man 2 in Songs For A New World and Melvin P Thorpe in the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, directed by Jimmy Johnston and Phyllida Crowley-Smith. During his training Andrew also took part in various musical theatre workshops with Maureen Scot and Gavin Lee. Andrew is delighted to be making his professional début in the Wiz and would like to thank his family and friends for all there continued love and support.

Spencer James

Spencer-jamesSpencer trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, gaining his B A Honours degree in Acting and Musical Theatre in 2003. His roles whilst training include Rick in A Slice Of Saturday Night (Directed by Hannah Chissick), Dance Captain in Pirates Of Penzance (Directed by Matt White) and alternate performances as Peter/Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar at St Pauls, Covent Garden. Professional theatre credits include Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie, and Genie of The Lamp in Aladdin.

Television credits include Casualty, Doctors, Dirty Work, Berkely Square and the role of Archie in Love In A Cold Climate, all for the BBC.

Spencer is proud to have taught at many schools throughout London over the past six years, teaching all disciplines of dance and drama, and working as Manager at many of these schools. He has worked extensively as a Director and Choreographer on many shows, such as Grease, Oliver, and Bugsy Malone. Last summer Spencer Directed/Choreographed Honk! The Musical, Bye Bye Birdie, and A…My Name Is Alice at Stagedoor Manor in New York, USA.

Upon his return to London he choreographed the Premiere Party of the Cole Porter movie De-Lovely at Café de Paris.

Most recently Spencer created the lead role in a new musical that premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.

Once Spencer has finished following the yellow brick road he will tour Italy in a production of the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago, playing the role of Billy Flynn.

Emma Lindars

Emma-lindarsEmma trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, and graduated this year with a 1st degree honours. Whilst at Mountview Emma’s roles included Evileen in the Wiz, Joanne in Godspell, and Reno Sweeny in Anything goes. Emma is delighted to be playing Evileen again at the Gatehouse and would like to thank her Mum, Dad, Family and friends for all their love and support.

Louisa Copperwaite

louisa copperwaiteLouisa trained at the London School of Musical Theatre. Whilst there she co-created the role of Katherine in Hope (Cochrane Theatre.) prior to LSMT, Louisa spent three years with the National Youth Music Theatre playing Mother Superior in Pendragon (Japanese tour & Edinburgh Festival Theatre) and understudying and playing Sylvia in The Dreaming (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh) she completed a cast recording of the latter. NYMT also gave her the opportunity to sing at Buckingham Palace, St James Palace and Wembley. More recently she has been playing the title role in Cinderella at the Victoria Theatre, Leeds. Louisa was also a part of last year’s hugely successful Hot Mikado and she is delighted to be back in this year’s production of The Wiz.

Jonathan Eiø

Jonathan-eioThis is Jonathan’s first show Upstairs at the Gatehouse and he is thrilled to be playing the part of the Tin Man. Jonathan trained at the Royal Academy of Music under the supervision of musical theatre supreme Mary Hammond. He wishes you all a Merry Christmas and would like to remind you to recycle! Especially your tin foil and cans!! www.jonathaneio.co.uk

CREATIVES

John Plews – Director

John Plews (Producer)John trained at Lamda and spent several years in Rep including a long stay at the Theatre Royal, Windsor. He has directed and produced numerous shows including many for cruise lines Cunard and P & O. At Upstairs at the Gatehouse John has directed Forever Plaid (also Edinburgh and National Tour) From a Jack to a King, It’s Only Make Believe (which he co-wrote), A Slice of Saturday Night, Little Shop of Horrors, Return to the Forbidden Planet and Hot Mikado.

Racky Plews – Choreographer

rackyRacky trained on the Musical Theatre course at the Arts Educational School in London. Choreography credits include: Sophie Tucker (currently showing at the New End Theatre), Flopstar (Gilded Balloon & King’s Head), Rough Crossing (Middle East Tour), Forever Plaid (National Tour), Hot Mikado, Return to the Forbidden Planet, From a Jack to a King and It’s Only Make Believe (all Upstairs at the Gatehouse). Directing credits include: Cole and Side by Side by Sondheim for which she received rave reviews (both Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Guys & Dolls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease (C.S.G.) and assistant director on Madame Butterfly (H.G.O.). In March she will be directing H.G.O.’s productions of The Marriage of Figaro. Racky is delighted to be working with such a talented and versatile cast.

Huw Griffith – Assistant Musical Director

Huw graduated from King’s College London and piano at the Royal Academy of Music in July 2005. He was Musical Director or Assistant Musical Director to all shows for King’s Musical Theatre for the three years. Show’s included; West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Guys and Dolls, The Threepenny Opera, Anything Goes, and Into the Woods.

Huw GriffithThis is Huw’s third production with Ovation at Upstairs at the Gatehouse. He was Assistant Musical Director for both Hot Mikado and Side by Side.

Originally from North Wales, Huw travels home regularly to accompany various choirs and soloists. In 2004 he accompanied in the Welsh Mass Male Voice Choir concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Television work includes: Compser John a Alun (Tonfedd Television Co.); Accompanist and Compser Noson Lawen (Tonfedd); Accompanist Fash’s Football Challenge (Zig Zag Production). In 2001 he was awarded the Business in the Community Wales Award, for outstanding achievement, through which he received a week’s work experience on Les Miserables, at the Palace Theatre, London.

Huw currently coaches Musical Theatre Rep at various Performing arts Colleges in London.

Gareth Dylan Smith – Drummer

Gareth-dylan-smithGareth Dylan Smith has been resident drummer Upstairs at the Gatehouse since 2001 when he moved to London to take up the post of Music Teacher at Norfolk House School in Muswell Hill. In his first show at the theatre, Daydream Believer, Gareth met Chris Whitehead, with whom he has since played in productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Sweet Charity, Hot Mikado, Lucky Stiff and now The Wiz. Gareth can also be found around London playing drums with pianist Rod Melvin; rock ‘n’ roll band, the Streamliners; country band, the Hummingbirds and punk rockers, the Eruptors. Following his recent completion of an MA in Music Education, Gareth is preparing to submit for publication an article on how people learn to play drums. Alongside his musical career, Gareth works as a driving instructor – among his current pupils are two members of tonight’s band. Gareth is happy to be here for another season Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

Julia Slienger – Lighting Designer

Julia graduated from LAMDA in 2003. Lighting design credits include: Perrier Nominated What’s the time Mr Lion, David Benson’s Conspiracy Cabaret (Edinburgh Festival 2005), Side By Side By Sondheim, Hot Mikado (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Loot, Habeas Corpus, Stags and Hens (Linbury Studio, LAMDA), Gone, The Consultants and Jeremy Lion’s Happy Birthday (Edinburgh Festival 2004/ New Ambassadors), David Benson’s Haunted Stage (Edinburgh 2004), Losing it (Soho Studio), Macbeth (Questors Studio).

As a technician: Big Day Out (The Hen and Chickens), Elephant Women (New Ambassadors), The Sunday Club (The Hen and Chickens).

As Stage Manager: Richard Alston Dance Company (Autumn & Spring Tours from 2003-2005), Victory! A musical for Peace (Donmar Warehouse), Somewhere Else (The Cobden Club), Duck Variations and Squirrels, A Slice of Saturday Night, Julius Caesar, The Secret Arch (Upstairs at the Gatehouse)

As ASM: It’s only Make Believe, The Good Doctor, From a Jack to a King (Upstairs at the Gatehouse). Julia works as a freelance technician in various theatres in London

Stewart Charlesworth – Costume Designer

Stewart trained on the three year Musical Theatre course at Mountview. He was last seen strutting his stuff as Pooh Bah in Ovation’s Hot Mikado. He has recently returned from a European Tour playing Riff-Raff in The Rocky Horror Show. For this production of The Wiz he is quite literally wearing a different hat. Stewart was production designer on Jane Eyre and Cabaret (Chelmsford), costume designer on Torch Song Trilogy (CTW and Hylands House Productions). He was costume designer on Ovation’s acclaimed production of Side by Side by Sondheim. Stewart is delighted to be let loose on the colourful characters from the land of Oz! and wishes to thank Jane Hunt for her help.

Helen Stewart – Set Design

Jessica Plews – Sound Technician / Wigs / Make-Up

Amy Jones – Stage Manager

Amy trained in Technical Theatre at Mountview. Her credits include – Sweet Charity; Shaw Theatre (Designer), Mad Forest; Chelsea Theatre (Designer), Hot Mikado; Hoxton Hall (Assistant Designer), Fame; Wyvern Theatre (Set Painter), Side By Side By Sondheim; Upstairs at the Gatehouse (Set Painter), They Came to a City; Mountview Theatre (Set Painter), Anatol; Tabard Theatre (ASM), American Clock; Greenwich Theatre (ASM), Four Knights in Knaresborough; Riverside Studios (ASM), Lucky Stiff; Wimbledon Studio Theatre (Stage Management).

She has worked for C-Venues and The Pleasance at The Edinburgh Festival and has also worked as the scenic artist on various short films.

Amy also has a strong performance background, and previously trained at The North London Performing Arts Centre.

Michael Winawer – Guitar

Michael has worked for seven years as a jazz guitarist and teacher in London. He studied under Charles Ramirez at the Royal College of Music, then took an English degree at Cambridge University. He has performed at the Gatehouse before, as bassist in Ovation’s Little Shop of Horrors and Hot Mikado. Other musical theatre includes Chorus Line (Shaw Theatre) and Lucky Stiff (Wimbledon Studio). As well as numerous jazz duos and quartets, he plays with soul singer Bridgette Amofah and in trip-hop band Second Person.

Mark Crown – Trumpet

Mark has played with some of the best jazz musicians in the UK. He has played with Alex Wilson, Denys Baptiste, Harry Brown, Gary Cosby and Jason Yarde. Hes has played in famous venues such as Albert Hall, Barbican Hall and London’s Jazz Cafe. Next year Mark is hoping to study jazz at Royal Academy of Music or Trinity College of Music and play more with his quintet. He is happy to come come back to the Gatehouse after last years get success of Hot Mikardo.

Stuart Ness – Bass

Stuart has played bass guitar for seven years. During this time he has made large developments in both music performance and music theory.

He has performed in a number of bands, playing a number of different styles, including big-band style jazz, traditional jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, soul and pop. While serving as part of a soul revue band Stuart was given the responsibility for arranging the music and organising rehearsals. In 2003, he studied at the Guitar Institute & Bass Tech school in West London, developing further his transcribing andarranging skills, as well as performance and rhythm section skills.

Special skills

Stuart also plays piano, rhythm guitar, blues harmonica and the sitar.

Louisa Davies – Deputy Stage Manager / Lighting Operator

Louisa trained at the London School of Musical Theatre. Whilst there she co-created the role of Katherine in Hope (Cochrane Theatre.) prior to LSMT, Louisa spent three years with the National Youth Music Theatre playing Mother Superior in Pendragon (Japanese tour & Edinburgh Festival Theatre) and understudying and playing Sylvia in The Dreaming (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh) she completed a cast recording of the latter. NYMT also gave her the opportunity to sing at Buckingham Palace, St James Palace and Wembley. More recently she has been playing the title role in Cinderella at the Victoria Theatre, Leeds. Louisa was also a part of last year’s hugely successful Hot Mikado and she is delighted to be back in this year’s production of The Wiz.

PHOTOS

REVIEWS

Richard Osley, Camden New Journal

Camden-New-Journal

Aline Waites, Ham & High

Ham-&-High

Lucy Powell, Time Out

As if the original wasn’t camp enough, William F Brown decided to update ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ to the platform-shoed, huge-haired, wackily psychedelic ’70s. This reworking of the black musical has some cracking soul numbers and makes it perfectly clear that Dorothy’s taken LSD and is tripping her pigtails off to the tune of talking scarecrows, lions and tap-dancing men made out of tin. In the morning we can be fairly sure she’ll wake up back in Kansas with something of a headache. The soundtrack remains fantastic, and Ovation theatre company get stuck into it from the off. Just as well, since the dialogue has been trimmed to within an inch of its life. John Plews directs with some nice touches: the yellow brick road is a chorus that Dorothy and chums follow around the set; and the Wiz is an out-of-work actor, appalled at the quality of his props.

There are also some fine performances: Emma Lindars is wonderful as the wicked dominatrix of the west who, weirdly, Dorothy can still destroy with water; Jonathan Eiø has a soaring voice as the Tin Man; and Louisa Copperwaite picks up all of her supporting roles with verve.

Overall there’s more pizzazz and energy than polish or emotion finesse.

Julia Hickman, Theatreworld Internet Magazine

The Wiz Book by William F Brown

Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls

Playing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 29 January 2006

This award-winning 1970s remake of the Wizard of Oz ran for 3 years on Broadway when it first came out and it’s not hard to see why, with its infectious mix of feel-good songs and its upbeat mood. The original score synthesises the best of 70s-style music, i.e. more Diana Ross than Donny Osmond, in a Blues Brothersy score – and the film version starred Diana herself along with Michael Jackson. The famous tune here is Ease on down the road, which most people will instantly recognise.

This turbo-charged production at Upstairs at the Gatehouse features an impossibly young and beautiful cast, in costumes that are just fabulous. The Lion sports a wild Afro, leopard-skin shirt and paisley/orange smoking jacket; the Scarecrow is resplendent in patchwork flares matched with waistcoat studded with right-on badges and the Wiz himself boasts a green topper plus silver platform boots and those Lycra shorts.

But a special mention must go to the Munchkins who whizz around on wheely chairs cloaked in their conical shells by the Arts Educational Schools and pop their hands and heads out for their ironic Munchkin dances rather like the Mock Turtle. I can’t quite describe why this is so funny but it just is.

The creators of this musical were brave enough to mess with an American icon and set it right in the middle of flower power, psychedelia and soul music, with the plot and characters remaining essentially the same. Peopled with actors representing a poppy field and the good old Yellow Brick Road, this is Oz on some kind of hallucinogen.

Dorothy is played by Sarah Boulton with a freshness and immediacy, which coupled with her strong voice makes her a winner. Evillene, the wicked witch of the West, has found her soul mate in the actor Emma Lindars who invests the role with a great personality and rich jazz voice. What is this thing the Brits have with the pathetic underdogs? Sometimes you just want the mean old overdogs and wicked witches to win for a change. Despite his angelic photo in the programme, Stuart Hickey is an outrageous and cheeky Wiz out for the main chance but who charms all in sight.

This exuberant young cast and the entire Ovation production team have created a show that is unashamedly happy, rampantly energetic and a must-see this Christmas.