TLC’s production of “The Wiz” to open Jan. 22 following long COVID delay

By Dr. Elizabeth Christian

Pineville, LA (LC News) – Theatre Louisiana College (tlc) and the Louisiana College Department of Music will present the popular Broadway musical “The Wiz” beginning Jan. 22 after a nearly year-long delay due to COVID-19.

“The Wiz” infuses L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with a wonderful array of rock, gospel and soul music. This timeless tale of Dorothy’s adventures through the Land of Oz is a fun and family-friendly musical and longtime favorite of musical theater.

The show, previously planned for March of 2020, was shut down four days prior to opening night due to precautions put in place as a result of the rising case numbers of COVID-19.

“The set and all the costumes have remained, waiting to be used,” said Director Tabitha Huffman, professor of theatre.

Unfortunately, because tlc is a college theatre program, the year delay required changes in cast members. Turran Fennix, the lead actor for the original production graduated and has moved from the area.

“This production was chosen at the request of one of our graduating seniors,” Huffman said. “Playing the scarecrow was his dream role, and I always want to try to give each of my theatre students a chance to play a dream role prior to graduating.”

Even though Fennix won’t be on stage for the production, he sent his blessings to the new cast.

“My experience working in ‘The Wiz’ was nothing short of amazing,” Fennix said. “It has always been my dream to play the Scarecrow in this production, and when I auditioned and got the role I was super excited. Unfortunately, due to COVID, graduation and my new career, I was not able to fulfill my role as Scarecrow. I hope it opens the eyes of so many and opens people’s hearts to theatre.”

Fennix said the show, directed by Huffman and under the musical direction of Assistant Professors Dr. Kate Rawls and Dr. David Hill, will be spectacular.

“We are an educational theatre, and our productions are meant to teach and train our students as well as give them a wide cultural vocabulary,” Huffman said. “This production has been significant in doing just that.”

Kenny Johnson, a senior history major and theatre minor, plays the Lion in the production. Most recently, he played Jim in tlc’s production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

“When Professor Huffman mentioned a year and a half ago about us doing ‘The Wiz,’ I immediately got excited because the theatre program decided to step in this general direction,” Johnson said. “The LC Theatre program has been nothing but a huge blessing to me. They welcomed me with open arms when I joined theatre at the end of my sophomore year.”

Tickets for “The Wiz” can be purchased by visiting www.lacollege.edu/thewiz. The play runs Jan. 22-23 at 7 p.m., and Jan. 24 at 2 p.m., and again Jan. 29-30 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 for LC faculty, staff, and students; $15 for adults; and $12 for non-LC students, seniors, and children.

For safety measures, every other row has been removed, and seating is limited. Masks are also required.