Ease on Down the Road with East Lansing High School

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By Kelly Cullen
Entirely East Lansing

Audience members can follow the path down the yellow brick road to see “The Wiz” at the East Lansing High School theater. Adapted from “The Wizard of Oz,” the musical highlights the greatest aspects of African-American culture.

More than 125 students were involved in the play, including onstage performers, pit orchestra and tech crew. After three months of daily rehearsals, the cast performed nine times March 20-29.

“As a director,I have enjoyed the creative process in mounting The Wiz,” said Mark Shaheeh, theater teacher who also directed the musical. “The give and take between students and adults is refreshing and effective.”

“The Wiz,” which builds off L. Frank Baum’s novel and the 1939 movie, follows Dorothy’s path after her house is destroyed by tornado and her journey toward Oz to meet the Wizard.

Michael Jackson portrayed the Scarecrow in 1978 in the movie version of “The Wiz,” and with Diana Ross who played Dorothy. Jackson, also known as “The King of Pop,” captured the true spirit of the African-American culture and was praised for his performance.

Senior Savannah Sodeman took on the role of Dorothy for her eighth and final show at East Lansing High School.

“Dorothy is longing to be back home, but what she initially fails to realize is that she will get home in the end,” said Sodeman. “She had to enjoy the journey and experiences first, which she quickly realizes when it’s time to say goodbye.”

Alongside Sodeman, freshman Jazmyn McClindon plays Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West.

“Owning the stage the first time was very nerve racking,” said McClindon. “I decided to channel a positive energy and bring it to the stage.”

The cast rehearsed for months prior to the production in order to put on a successful show.

“There is such a great variety of people involved,” said Shaheen. “Everyone is working extremely hard and dedicating their time and energy to the production.”

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