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Approximate run time: 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission

A Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre Production of
The Wiz
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
Directed by Lou Bellamy
Assistant Directed and Choreographed by Patdro Harris
Music Direction by Sanford Moore
Best enjoyed by all ages

Ease on down the road with Dorothy and her friends in this dazzling mixture of rock and soul music. Embark on this Oz-some adventure through a magic land where you will meet funky monkeys, winkies, Addaperle and Evillene. You don’t need a wizard – just believe in yourself to find home and feel that brand-new day!

About Penumbra Theatre
Penumbra Theatre was founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African American voices in the Twin Cities theatre community. Penumbra has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Today, Penumbra Theatre is Minnesota's only professional African American theatre, and is one of only three professional African American theatres in the nation that offer a full season of performances.

Performance Description

The Wiz is a musical performed by a large cast of adults and student actors with a live orchestra. Set, costumes, and props are elaborate. This production is a collaboration between CTC and Penumbra Theatre and will feature songs from the original Broadway and movie adaptations. Penumbra Theatre is Minnesota's only professional African American theatre, and it is one of only three professional African American theatres int he nation that offer a full season of performances. This production will feature Paris Bennett as Dorothy. 

This production takes place on the United Health Group Stage and seats up to 745 people.

Approximate run time: 2 hours including intermission
Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.

Plot Synopsis

Written by Elissa Adams, Director of New Play Development
Edited by Kristina Miller, Senior Audience Services Manager
Be warned: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.

On a small, ramshackle farmhouse in Kansas, Dorothy, a bright, energetic young teenager, is being scolded by her Aunt Em, a farmer's wife who is disappointed that Dorothy isn't ready to accept the adult responsibilities necessary to life on a farm. Despite her strict manner, it is obvious that Aunt Em cares very much for the girl. A tornado sweeps up Dorothy's house, and carries it to Coney Island in NYC, where it kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The witch's death causes quite a stir among the workers and the Good Witch of the North, Addaperle. When Dorothy asks Addaperle how she is to get back to Kansas she advises her to put on the Wicked Witch of the East’s silver slippers and head off to visit the great Wiz. A yellow brick road appears, but Dorothy is frightened of the journey she must take. Her fears are alleviated by a friendly scarecrow perched on a pole in a community garden, whom she frees. He tells her about his dream to have brains. Dorothy tells the Scarecrow that the Wiz could probably help him and the two decide to join forces with the "road" on their way to the Emerald City. In Central Park they find a rusted Tin Man who begs for some oil and tells the two he wants a heart to make his life complete. They ask him to join them and the three set out. Their journey takes them to the Central Park Zoo and the trio is interrupted by the Cowardly Lion who tries to convince them of his ferocity. The Lion decides to visit the Wiz in hopes of finding courage. When the Lion shows his cowardice in a fight with the Kalidahs, a frightening flower witch-like gang, Dorothy comforts him. Finally, the group arrives in the Emerald City which is located at the Apollo Theatre and meets its exotically and exquisitely dressed inhabitants. All the citizens wear green glasses as part of their apparel. The four eventually meet the Wiz who appears on a large screen with smoke and fire, which overwhelms everyone. The Wiz introduces himself to the travelers, who are thoroughly frightened by what they have just witnessed. The Wiz listens to their problems and agrees to grant their wishes if they kill Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West and the most powerful witch in Oz. We see Evilene, in her castle, instructing her slaves, the Winkies, not to bother her for she is in a bad mood. When an unfortunate messenger has the bad luck to have to report on the presence of Dorothy and her friends the angry Witch yells at the messenger and summons the winged monkeys. The monkeys are sent to capture the four friends, eventual kidnapping of Dorothy. At Evilene's castle, as Evilene threatens her friends and humiliates the Lion, Dorothy hurls a bucket of water on the unsuspecting Witch, who begins to melt and finally is reduced to a pile of smoldering cloth on the floor. The Winkies shout with joy at the death of their captor. The four return to Emerald City where they discover the Wiz is a fake. The Wiz reveals to Dorothy and the others that he really isn't a Wizard but a plain old nobody from Omaha, Nebraska whose hot air balloon got swept up in a big storm and landed in the middle of a ladies social in Oz. These women, having never seen a hot air balloon before, expected him to do another miracle so he devised the green glasses that everyone wears. The four friends are puzzled until he explains that the miracle behind the glasses is what you allow yourself to see. The Wiz reaches into his magic storage chest and begins to hand out his miracles: a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man; courage for the Lion, and a promise to take Dorothy back to Kansas in the balloon he arrived in. At a farewell launching where the citizens are bidding their leader goodbye, the balloon accidentally ascends without Dorothy. Dorothy is devastated until there is a puff of smoke and a dazed Addaperle who tells the foursome that her sister, Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, is on her way. Glinda arrives with her entourage and tells Dorothy she can go home if she believes in herself. Dorothy begins to sing of her "Home" and is reminded by her friends that she can return to Oz by clicking her silver shoes and thinking of them. All her friends in Oz slowly disappear, leaving her alone. Toto, her dog, appears and Dorothy realizes that she's home.

Content Advisories: (subject to change as the production goes into rehearsal)

Language: 0 out of 5 

Themes and Situations: 2 out of 5 
Dorothy gets swept up by a tornado. Dorothy wakes up in a strange place. 

Violence & Scariness: 2 out of 5 
The tornado can be scary. The Wicked Witch of the East dies. The Lion tries to fight the Kalidahs. Evilene is evil and can be intimidating. Winged monkeys can be intimidating. Dorothy is kidnapped by Evilene. Evilene is melted by Dorothy.  

Sensory Advisories: 3 out of 5 
Loud thunder during the tornado. Addaperle appears in a puff of smoke. Loud sound effects are using during Kalidahs. Strobe lights, CO2 blasters, dry ice and fog are used. Actors come into the audience. 

Potentially Anxious Moments: 2 out of 5 
A tornado happens onstage. Dorothy is kidnapped. 

Student Matinee Pricing
Classroom Curriculum     Educator Resources and References


Black Excellence

Celebration of Black Culture


Coming of Age

Conflict Resolution

Courage & Resilience

Cultural Pride



Overcoming Obstacles




Curriculum Connections


Cardinal Directions


Decision Making

Goal Setting

Good vs. Evil

Hip Hop


















Minnesota State Benchmarks




Speaking & Listening





Artistic Foundations
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1, Benchmark 2, Benchmark 3.2

Artistic Process: Create or Make
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

Artistic Process: Perform or Present
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

The Wiz emereged from the Black Arts Movement. Sarah Bellamy, Artistic director of Penumbra Theatre says: “The Black Arts Movement was the spiritual sister to the Black Power Movement. It came on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, a time period when there was a lot of goodwill, but change was slow to come. BAM was about black artists creating provocative art that would spill over from the stage, or be produced directly in community (community centers, church basements, playgrounds and gymnasiums, homes, etc.)” Here is a collection of resources if you want to learn more.

General Information about the Black Arts Movement – Black Arts Movement
Britannica Kids – Black Arts Movement
Library Guides – Black Arts Movement Timeline – Black Arts Movement
WideWalls – History of the Black Arts Movement

Penumbra Theatre and the Black Arts Movement

National Humanities Center – Larry Neal on the Black Arts Movement
Minnesota History Center – Penumbra Theatre at 40

Visual Arts in the Black Arts Movement

Chicago History Fair – Visual Arts in the Black Arts Movement in Chicago
Northwestern University Block Museum – Wall of Respect

Poetry in the Black Arts Movement

PBSlearningmedia – August Wilson reciting “for my grandfather”
Youtube – Sonia Sanchez reciting “What Does it Mean to be Human?”
University Library – Women Poets of the Black Arts Movement

Music in the Black Arts Movement

Revive Music – Jazz, Poetry, Rap: Cause & Effect of the Black Arts Movement

Theatre in the Black Arts Movement

Yale University – Seeking a Home: The Wiz and the Black Arts Movement
Civil Rights Era on Broadway – Feminista Jones response to The Wiz live on NBC.


Kidcentricity is an online and interactive creative collaboration that puts young people and theatre artists together to work on the design for a theater production. This year, Kidcentricity will be working on The Wiz. Designers upload videos to the Kidcentricity website asking the students a question. Students can answer the question in whatever way they see fit such as videos, power point presentations, drawings, models, etc. Educators are encouraged to connect the questions to the classroom curriculum. The student’s ideas are then sent via email to and are uploaded to the Kidcentricity website for designers to view and be inspired. The designers then post a video response to the students’ ideas, sharing with them how their ideas inspired the overall design. 

There is no cost to participate in the project although we do encourage participants to attend the show. Visit the Kidcentricity website at or email for more information.

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