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Unified Voices Of Johns Hopkins Presents Celebrated Broadway Production The Wiz

10/18/2019, 6 a.m.
Unified Voices of Johns Hopkins (UV) proudly presents the highly acclaimed, Broadway classic The Wiz. The performances will take place ...
(Left) Baltimore School for the Arts student Jade Underwood will portray “Dorothy.” (Right) National gospel recording artist Randy “Fruity” Roberts of The Choir Boyz will portray “The Wiz” in the Unified Voices of Johns Hopkins presentation. Courtesy Photo

Unified Voices of Johns Hopkins (UV) proudly presents the highly acclaimed, Broadway classic The Wiz. The performances will take place Friday, October 25, 2019 (7 p.m.); Saturday, October 26, 2019 (2 p.m. & 7 p.m.); and Sunday, October 27, 2019 (5 p.m.) in Turner Auditorium, located in the Johns Hopkins Turner Building, 720 Rutland Ave., Baltimore, MD 21205.

The gospel stage play is being directed by Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch (Theatrical), and Howard “Buddy” Lakins (Musical). Aaron Lewis is the Choreographer. LaKeisha McClendon is the Executive Producer.

The Unified Voices of Johns Hopkins presentation will feature a wide cadre of talented performers. Power vocalist Malvilyn Simpson Statham of the legendary Clara Ward Singers will be performing in the production as “Glenda the Good Witch”. National gospel recording artist Randy “Fruity” Roberts (“Watch Me Work”) of The Choir Boyz will portray “The Wiz.”

The production also touts a phenomenal cast of youth, including Baltimore School for the Arts student Jade Underwood, who will portray “Dorothy,” and John Paige who will be performing as one “The Crows.” Paige is a member of the nationally recognized Cardinal Shehan School Choir from Baltimore City.

The Wiz tells the story of “Dorothy,” a restless Kansas farm girl who is eager to see more of the world. She is transported by a tornado to a magical world of Munchkins, witches, and a yellow brick road. On her way to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz, who she believes can help her get back home to Kansas, she encounters the “Scarecrow,” the “Tin Man,” and the “Cowardly Lion”— friends who help her battle the “Wicked Witch of the West” and eventually learn that there really is “no place like home.”

The Wiz, Charlie Smalls’ musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, opened at the Majestic Theatre on January 5, 1975. The show ran 1,672 performances and won the Tony Award for “Best Musical.” The Wiz retells L. Frank Baum’s classic “The Wizard of Oz” in the context of African American culture. The cast of the original Broadway production featured Tiger Haynes, Ted Ross, Hinton Battle, Stephanie Mills, Clarice Taylor, Mabel King, Andre De Shields, Tasha Thomas, and DeeDee Bridgewater.

“We are ecstatic about bringing The Wiz back to Turner Auditorium once again,” said Dr. Gregory Branch, who also serves as Executive Director of UV. “We performed The Wiz nearly twenty years ago, and are excited about its return engagement.

“We are asking everyone to come out and see this beloved Broadway classic, which perfectly aligns with UV’s mission of spreading hope, health, and healing through harmony at Hopkins. Through this presentation, people can expect to laugh, cry, and most of all, to be uplifted as Hopkins turns into the Hippodrome.”

Founded in 1993, UV is a gospel choir that consists of a diverse group of individuals with different personalities, lifestyles, and backgrounds working together to bridge the gap between the medical institution and the historic East Baltimore community.

In addition to The Wiz, Dr. Branch has directed numerous productions including Ursula V. Battle’s DisChord in The Choir: Pitch Please!, The Teachers’ Lounge, My Big Phat Ghetto FABULE$$ Wedding, Serenity House: From Addiction to Deliverance and For Better or Worse. He has also directed Steel Magnolias, Little Shop of Horrors, and Stella Adams’ Heavy Is The Rain. Dr. Branch also serves as

Director of Health and Human Services for Baltimore County.

The Wiz is being presented by Special Arrangement with Samuel French, a Concord Theatricals Company. Tickets are $25, and are available for sale online at www.unifiedvoices.com.

For more information, call Unified Voices at 410-955-8888 or visit: www.unifiedvoices.com.