Cincinnati – The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) celebrated the end of the 21-22 Season with a world-premiere production of THE WIZ JR. The brand-new adaptation ran from April 2-11, 2022 for a total of 17 performances (public and school) at the Taft Theatre in Downtown Cincinnati. Over 15,000 people attended across the 17 performances, breaking attendance goals. 7,179 students attended the show for school performances, and 7,453 patrons attended the public performances. Thanks to American Rescue Plan funds from the City of Cincinnati, administered by ArtsWave, 797 people attended a Free Preview Performance of THE WIZ JR.
Not only was the show a spectacle on stage, but behind the scenes as well. TCT brought on a talented cast and staging team that is 100% BIPOC. Director Zhailon Levingston (the youngest Black Broadway director in history), Choreographer Tislarm Bouie, Music Director Jason Alexander Holmes, Costume Designer Daryl Harris, and Scenic Designer Seth Howard helped bring this beloved story to life.
Enthusiastic social media comments and positive survey responses flooded in after each performance. The show welcomed patrons of all ages from across the Tri-State and saw significantly increased audience diversity. TCT believes this diverse audience will lead to increased awareness of TCT performances and programs in the future, along with building a lifelong love of theatre in young audiences.
Director Zhailon Levingston said, “I hope for the kids that may not want to be active participants in storytelling – professionally or recreationally – that they understand that the institution of theatre is a place that can be for them. It’s a door that is open for them.” “Representation matters. I think it’s very important for people to see themselves on stage. Or to look in the program and see that there is a Black set designer. And I hope that the kids that see the show take that with them for the rest of their lives,” said Choreographer Tislarm Bouie.
THE WIZ JR. is made possible by the generosity of Production Sponsors PNC Foundation and Procter & Gamble, Hotel Sponsor The Summit Hotel, Dress Run Sponsor TriHealth, and The Change Fund Sponsor The Wohlgemuth Herschede Foundation. Special thanks to Season Sponsors The Patricia A. Corbett Trust, The Charles H. Dater Foundation, H.B., E. W. and F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and Narley L. Haley, Co-Trustees. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is supported by ArtsWave and the generosity of tens of thousands of contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. Free preview nights of this production are made possible by American Rescue Plan funds from the City of Cincinnati, administered through ArtsWave. The Children’s Theatre is supported in part by an American Rescue Plan Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support general operating expenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
THE WIZ JR. Adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” By L. Frank Baum. Book by William F. Brown. Additional Material by Tina Tippit. Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Copyright 1975, 1979, 2006, 2010. This 60-Minute Version of THE WIZ JR. was developed by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Deondra Kamau Means, Resident Artist. Directed by Zhailon Levingston, straight from Broadway’s Chicken & Biscuits, Hadestown, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Choreographed by Tislarm Bouie. Music Directed by Jason Alexander Holmes. Costume Designed by Dr. Daryl Harris, Scenic Design by Seth Howard. Lighting Design by Benjamin Gantose. Sound Design by Donald Moore. Stage Managed by Jadi Davis.