On the rainy Sunday afternoon of February 12, over 100 students from Boys’ Town Infant and Primary School watched the 2017 production of The Wiz courtesy of the C.B. Facey Foundation (CBFF).
For the fourth year, CBFF sponsored the matinee presentation from Jamaica Junior Theatre (JJT) at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at University of the West Indies, Mona.
The students were mesmerised by the actors’ bright costumes, innovative props, and brilliant lighting design that created the world of Oz.
The cast, consisting of over 40 on-stage performers, took the giggling audience through the story of a girl — Dorothy — trying to find her way through an unfamiliar world.
The lead played by Shea Thompson was ably assisted by convincing characters Khano Gordon as Scarecrow, Realla Benguche as Tinman, and Sydnie Greaves as Lion.
Stand out performers were Andrew Bailey as The Wiz and Kimmberley Samuels, who was a particularly scary Evillene, wicked witch of the West.
The music was good too.
A Smooth Criminal sampled Slide Some Oil To Me introduced the Tinman; Love Lockdown introduction to the Poppy Fields; and a party scene had the students providing the lyrics to dancehall choreography featuring LOL, Willy Bounce, and Aji Bounce moves, as the audience enters Oz.
The students enjoyed the afternoon out, and even met the cast after curtain call, as part of their exposure to the arts.
“C.B. Facey Foundation’s mandate is to support education, the environment and the arts. Today, we fulfilled two; we engaged the students in the arts in order to further their education,” shared CBFF Executive Director Brittany Singh Williams. “The students can see themselves in the young cast and realise that their imagination can be brought to life,” she continued.
This sentiment was echoed by the show’s producer Danielle Stiebel.
“For the children, what they are doing is bringing magic to light through imagination, which is very essential to children’s upbringing,” Stiebel said.
“We try to encourage corporate partners to expose young people to theatre and it is through partnerships like with C.B. Facey that we can continue to put on the production,” she added. “That’s why we love working with them.”
The Wiz is the 56th musical of the JJT, the junior arm of Jamaica Musical Theatre Company and is directed by Damion Radcliffe.