Producers complete cast for Hope Mill The Wiz

Updated: 5 days ago


Anticipation is building for Manchester Hope Mill Theatre’s Christmas show The Wiz – the first new UK production of the musical in over a decade.

The show is an award-winning, all-Black version of The Wizard of Oz reflecting African-American culture of the mid 1970. The 1975 movie version starred Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

The production will follow the theatre’s sold-out production of Rent, which thrilled both critics and audiences alike, and like Rent will draw on a cast of young and relatively little-known but top-quality singers and actors. They include West End performers such as Jonathan Andre (Lion King), Tarik Frimpong (Aladdin, Lion King), Cameron Bernard Jones (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and Motown the Musical) and Bree Smith (Book of Mormon), as well as a group of experienced touring stars and five performers in their first show as professionals.

Matthew Xia said: “The Wiz is approaching its 50th anniversary and now exists within the canon of mainstream musicals. It’s due time for some bold reinvention.

“Originally a funk and soul-based analogy for the African-American experience, in 2021 Manchester we’re offering a contemporary take on the discovery of self-determination and Black joy.”

Musical Supervisor Sean Green has created new orchestrations: “I had the thought ‘What if the music was a love letter to Black music?’ I started hearing all sorts of music within the DNA of the score. This exploration allowed me to incorporate various genres from across the African Diaspora in the new orchestrations which, alongside the funk and soul in the original, really add depth and colour to the world we’re creating.”

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