Culture | March 6th, 2024

FAMU Essential Theatre Brings “The Wiz” to Life with Enthusiastic Performances

By: Alexis Rejouis | Staff Writer
FAMU Essential Theatre Brings “The Wiz” to Life with Enthusiastic Performances

The Charles Winter Wood Theatre was filled with magic and music as the FAMU Essential Theatre presented its rendition of “The Wiz.” Directed by Evelyn D. Tyler, this adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum delighted audiences with its vibrant performances. 

The play, a beloved classic, received praise from students and attendees. 

Zafir Furqan, a fourth-year business administration student, expressed his favorite moment, highlighting the poignant scene where the Tin Man reveals his heart through song.

“My favorite moment was when the Tin Man opened up,” Furqan said. “It showed he had the most heart out of all the characters with his song ‘What I Would Do If I Could Feel?’”

Furqan’s enthusiasm for the production was evident as he also commended the Historically Black University feel the play added, claiming that “we can have our own superstars.”

The HBCU feel to the play was one that actors in the show felt should always be there. 

Oluwamodupe Oloyede, a third-year theatre performance major, who had various roles in the show, felt that the intentions of “The Wiz” were always meant to be for people of color, and putting the performance on in a space that she considers home was a comfort for her.

“I think what’s awesome about ‘The Wiz’ is that the intention of it is to be Black,”  Oloyede said. “Having that safe space to do character development as who I am, especially in my home, the Essential Theatre, made it easier. When we had the table reads and when we had the bookwork segment of the rehearsal process, we allowed our imaginations to soar.



Dorothy in FAMU Essential Theatre’s production of “The Wiz” || Photo Courtesy: @enkuwuleta and @iamjordaneaton on Instagram

Janelle Ismay, a third-year broadcast journalism student, was impressed by the performers’ dedication, particularly noting the dance sequence with the flying monkeys. She emphasized that the actors truly embodied their roles, creating an immersive experience for the audience.

Ismay, a long-time fan of musicals, appreciated the opportunity to add FAMU Essential Theatre’s version of “The Wiz” to her list of cherished productions.

“A noteworthy moment in the show was definitely the dance sequence when the flying monkeys were introduced,”  Ismay said. “It really showed the dedication and skill the dancers had to perform. From the main characters to the ensemble, the physicality of their performance really stood out and created an immersive experience for the audience.”

 Elam Richardson, a third-year civil engineering student, echoed the sentiments of capturing the essence of the original “Wiz.” He praised the heartfelt performances, emphasizing the authenticity that paid homage to the beloved movie.

“I feel like this production captured the essence of the original whiz as I felt like all the performances were heartfelt and felt true to the original movie,” Richardson said.

 This sentiment resonated with audience members and performers alike as the true essence of the play, and the message it provides remains a constant for all viewers.

 “I think that’s the beauty of “The Wiz” because even though it has some older references in it, it doesn’t change the premise of the story,” Oloyede said. “What you need is already in you. You just have to mature to find it.”

The FAMU Essential Theatre’s production of “The Wiz” succeeded in capturing the hearts of both performers and audience members. With its lively performances, dedication to the original essence, and the infusion of HBCU spirit, the play was a memorable experience for all who attended.

 For those who may have missed the electrifying performance, the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Lecture Hall is having a free screening of the original movie on Thursday, March 7, starting at 6:00 p.m. 

Attendees must email to reserve their spot.