April 15, 2008

So... you met the Wizard?

Alright... two days to recover from a WONDERFUL weekend! I feel like I have been rushing through the past few days. I remember living them but it just feels so weird to have this dream come true experience and it not feel the way I expected.

I could not have asked for a better opening night! Even preview night was a real treat. There were some technical issues but overall, (opening night especially) the energy from the cast was through the roof. For opening we

decided that we needed to warm up and get each other pumped so Kristin (Stage Manager) reserved a room for us with a piano and we just let loose! I think that was the most comfortable I have ever felt with the cast as a whole.

We are never on stage all together except for curtain call so to be together in one room, singing, dancing and bouncing off the walls we really connected to one another.

We ended our warm ups by singing "can't you feel a, brand new day" and we sang our way back to the dressing room where the celebration really got started! Dominic, T. Mychael and Uri came down to wish us luck and more importantly to encourage us to enjoy ourselves and they even did a little Electric Slide with us:-P

It was finally time!
Kristin called places and we were ready to begin. I stood off stage waiting for Aunt Em (Ms. Tiana Hardy) to call for Dorothy. As the welcome ended and the overture faded out, the lights came up and we had officially begun! AMAZING!

Ease on...

April 8, 2008

In The Pocket...

I understand the need to be hyper aware of what is taking place around me on or off stage but something weird has been happening to my focus lately. At rehearsals each night Kristen (our awesome stage

manager) reminds the cast how important it is for us all to stay focused when we are in this process. Dominic talks to us all the time about staying in the pocket. I've been hearing him say this to us from the beginning of

rehearsals and now I really understand what that's all about.
When I enter into the dressing room and begin to put on my make-up and costume I should slowly be transforming

myself into my character. Once places are called and we are ready to begin the show my character should never break. No matter what is going on, I should handle it all, not just professionally but the way that my character would

handle it. My relationships on stage will become more sincere, because our cast can have fun with each other and also anticipate or at least be prepared for every situation that might occur in the show. I am blessed to have

amazing mentors to work with this year. My voice teacher (Hi Noelle!) gave me awesome advice on how to handle the pressure, fun, and responsibility of this experience. Dominic will put every piece of my blocking in my real life

and help me to understand the reason behind every creative decision we make. I bug Sanford about each song to make sure that I am communicating the meaning that we want to represent. T. Mychael encouraged me to not only

rest in the fullness of my voice but think about each lyric as if it were written on the walls of the theater. Uri can make a suggestion about the way I move around in one scene that makes so much sense I could imagine why I

didn't realize it right away. I am determined to not only focus for the remainder of this show but give that 110% everytime I set foot on that stage.

There's a feeling here inside...

March 25, 2008

Little Confused?

So I read the questions and comments on the backstage pass a little late, and came in at the end of the online discussion but I felt like I HAD to comment. I have a few questions also. Why is it a big deal if the cast of The Wiz is

predominately white? No one is ACTUALLY surprised about that right? Why weren't similar questions raised when we were doing... uhm... The Crucible? And if we are making art, are our ideas limited by the way in which the art

was originally made? Does everything need to be the same as the broadway cast or the cast from the movie?
Naw, of course not. Sometimes I think we need to go back to elementary school and be forced to read books or

see plays with diverse people in them. Then maybe it won't matter to us if we stay true to the way a show was intended to be cast or not.

Coming into this project, I'll admit I wondered about the casting and was nervous that Dorothy wouldn't look like Stephanie Mills (She's the original Dorothy, not Ms. Ross:-) But after being apart and having to address so many other ideas and visions I stopped thinking about RACE and remembered to just love making art with whoever,

wherever, and when ever. Honestly the questions that were raised on the backstage pass seem to me more like a way to get tenion rising. Maybe even a way to get more tickets sold? Well whatever it is, I can tell everyone that

The Wiz is going to be a great show not just because we are multicultral or diverse but also because the diverse group of people involved, LOVE MAKING ART!

It's a Brand New Day...

March 24, 2008


Came across befuddling remarks on The U of M's Backstage Pass Discussion Forum:


According to this website,

Anonymous theater students addressing the Peers, a group who aims provide up-to-date information about the happenings of the Department of Theater Arts and Dance, recently presented two major concerns about The Wiz:

Question 1
: "The Wiz? White cast? Not cool! Diversity please?"

Question 2: "Why is the Wiz being done with a predominately white cast? Diversity?"

First of all,

Who raised this question?

And second, where are they getting their information?

How did they ever get the idea that The Wiz is a white cast?

We're not.

We're not even a "predominately white" cast.

However, many of us are not theater majors or the usual faces one often spots chilling out in the theater building.

And thank god we're not!

Isn't it refreshing, perhaps even necessary, to remind our community that the theater department extends far beyond BA's, BFA's, and theater classes?

Shouldn't these elusive question posers take it upon themselves to get to know us and experience the art we're creating before they complain about how white we are?

Furthermore, our director Dominic Taylor already concentrates on what the Forum's William D. refers to as difference,

"meaningful change in the day to day discussion of race/sex/religion/thinking",

by continuously encouraging our cast to experiment with sexual identity and gender roles in a way that's still relevant to the plot.

It can even be argued that our show's a little too larger-than-life, that we're trying too hard to be "edgy", "urban", and P.C,

But we ARE diverse and we DO address difference.

Those aren't the problems!

Why aren't we talking about why Dominic wants The Land of Oz to symbolize The University,


The reasoning behind his choice to feature jarring photographs from turbulent periods in African American history before the first act begins?

Peers, students, anyone, I urge you to attend rehearsals.

Sit in the audience, ask questions, engage actors in discussion during their breaks and downtime, see Dominic during his office hours, e-mail our stage managers,

Become directly involved before jumping to conclusions.

March 17, 2008

Here we go!


Wow a month of rehearsals has gone by fast! I guess now is the perfect time to start blogging since I have gotten more of a feel for how this experince will be. I am so wrapped up in Oz that a few days ago while I was driving I saw someone in front of me with a Kansas license plate and had the urge to flag them down and have them take me home:-D The process this far has been AMAZING! I am tired at times but when 7pm rolls around and we start easing on down the road I just can't get enough...


March 14, 2008

The First Few Weeks

The first few weeks of just about any play are even worse than the twelve-hour-long tech rehearsals to come,

And The Wiz is no exception.

Everything I do seems strained and unnatural.

Scripts inhibit my movement,

Sight-reading distracts me from embellishing vocally,

And character development always suffers when I’m learning new blocking that’s already changed more than once and is bound to change again.

It’s difficult.

Musicals demand stylized performances so something feels amiss when animation and physicality take a backseat to structure.

And yet, that’s how it’s gotta be, at least in the beginning.

The most frustrating technical aspect of rehearsals involves a whole lotta music theory.

Specifically, key changes.

The songs I sing were originally written for a tenor, so our angel of music, Sanford, transposed all three of them into my range.

It’s been a painstaking process, trying to find a key that works.

Plus, I know I’ve been less than flexible and often exasperate Sanford with requests for him to please revise his revisions.

He usually senses my uneasiness about a particular section in the music immediately.

“Alright, what’s wrong with your song?? he’ll ask, or, “Are you still struggling with those lyrics??

“No? I respond, “ It’s just the key?

“The key? We just changed the key!?

“Can we change it again??

And there you have it, our entire working relationship in a nutshell.


Now that Sanford’s successfully rummaged the scales and tweaked every dotted half-note on my score for the perfect arrangement of sharps and flats, I can proudly attest to his prowess as a maestro.

Besides, I’ve got thirty-seven days to prove to the man that I’m really not a self-involved brat.

And that should be plenty of time.

March 11, 2008

Why we blog

Welcome to the University Theatre’s blog for The Wiz. My name is Sean Nolan and I am a Marketing Associate for the U Theatre and would like to give a little insight into why we are here, online, talking about the show.
It has been a goal of the U Theatre to further integrate new media into the archiving and promoting of the program for some time now and The Wiz gives us a show that presents itself nicely for providing mass entertainment but is also topical to many points that concern the question, “Why do we do theatre??

The aim of this blog is intended to be 3-fold:
1) To generate interest in our shows and programs (esp. for prospective students).
2) To document the rehearsal process and become an online archive of the work.
3) To serve as a discussion forum for issues generated by the play.

Our feature bloggers are Ivory Doublette (Dorothy) and Sabrina Crews (The Wiz). Their journey in this production will be documented on this site for all that are interested to see.
If you have any questions or want to join in on the discussion, please don’t hesitate.


Sean Nolan