The Wiz: A Celebration in Dance and Music
George Faison, internationally celebrated producer, writer, composer, director, choreographer and dancer, made history in 1975 when he became the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography for The Wiz. In honor of the Broadway hit’s 40th anniversary this year, Faison will present performances of original songs and dances from the show. Mr. Faison also heads the Faison Firehouse Theater in Central Harlem, which he founded in 2000 along with Tad Schnugg.The Firehouse is a technologically advanced theater where Mr. Faison develops digital applications for the performing arts as well as original theater pieces. The 130 seat theater, branded “Hollywood of Harlem” by the media, is a full service performing arts and cultural center with fine arts galleries, rehearsal facilities and a cabaret theater.
Musical Supervisor and Arranger, Timothy Graphenreed first worked with George Faison in the summer of 1973 on a production of “Inner City” at the legendary Washington Theater Club in Washington D.C. Faison then invited Timothy to be the Dance Arranger for “The Wiz.” When it became apparent that there was no music for either the Tornado nor the Emerald City scene, Graphenreed and Faison created those pieces during the dance rehearsals in 1974. Both songs are part of the Tony and Grammy Award winning score. Together they also wrote, with David Langston Smyrl, the legendary “Apollo: It Was Just Like Magic,” which starred Clarice Taylor as Moms Mabley, Morgan Freeman and S. Epatha Merkerson and “Sing, Mahalia Sing” starring Jennifer Holiday. Timothy went on to arrange music for several Broadway shows including “Leader of the Pack” and “Comin’ Uptown.” He has arranged for numerous acts and taught world-wide and is a recognized Composer/Lyricist and Bookwriter. His upcoming projects include “Matryoshka the Musical” with Tinatin Japaridze and “The Joint” with writer Curtis Jones. He is so thrilled to be working with George again. The Magic is back!
A number of members of the original Broadway cast will return for this celebratory run! Actress Phylicia Rashad, a munchkin and swing in the original production, will co-host the performance with George Faison. André De Shields will reprise his original role as the Wiz; Dee Dee Bridgewater, Tony Award winner for her role as Glinda will reprise this original role; and Ebony Jo-Ann, who played Addaperle in the Broadway revival of the production will reprise her role as well. Another returning cast member, Garry Q. Lewis, will join play the Scarecrow. Damien L. Sneed will act as the musical director and conductor of The Wiz: A Celebration in Dance and Music.