THE WIZ (South Philly High): The arts revived in Philadelphia Public Schools

With support from the Public Citizens for Children’s Picasso Project + Youth and the Curtis Institute of Music’s ArtistYear Fellowship Program, the arts are once again being revived in Philadelphia’s public school district.

South Philadelphia High School, in collaboration with the Curtis Institute of Music’s ArtistYear program, presents The Wiz, the musical, on May 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. at South Philadelphia High School’s own 1400-seat historic auditorium located at 2101 S. Broad St. Tickets are available at the door as pay-what-you-wish.

Steeped with non-stop high energy singing and dancing, the production showcases some of South Philadelphia High School’s finest talent, and provides students with an opportunity unlike any they have had at the school in over a decade, before last year. Currently in its second year, South Philly High School’s new music program performed a very successful run of Dreamgirls last spring during its inaugural year, bringing much needed attention to the school’s high level of talent, as well as need for a music program. The school’s history heralds back to the rich musical traditions of graduates including Mario Lanza, Chubby Checker, and Marian Anderson, and since the return of the music program last year, the school has seen a dramatic improvement in climate and school spirit.

The musical The Wiz, was an early example of Broadway’s mainstream acceptance of an all African- American cast, and is an urbanized re-telling of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The show had its premiere in Baltimore, and presents the story in the context of modern culture, sourcing funk beats and relaxed humor. In this coming-of-age tale, Dorothy discovers the strength of her own mind through the meeting and collaboration with many fantastical friends.

Made possible through a grant from PCCY’s Picasso Project, this production of The Wiz is directed by ArtistYear Fellow Alize Rozsnyai, a recent graduate of the opera program at Curtis, and conducted by South Philly High’s second year music teacher, Louis Russo. The production team includes current University of the Arts students Sara Marinich, production designer, and Cass Meehan, costume designer. The Wiz will be accompanied by a band comprised of ArtistYear Fellow Stanislav Chernyshev, who is also currently in residence at the school forming a brand new band program, as well as students of the Curtis Institute of Music and other local professional musicians.

Tickets are priced as pay-what-you-wish in order to include all community members, but with hopes that revenue will speak to the community’s support and recognized need to keep music and theatre alive and thriving at South Philadelphia High School in the future.

South Philadelphia High School Presents The Wiz

South Philadelphia High School Auditorium
2101 S. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA, 19148

Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: Pay-what-you-wish, available at the door

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About the author

Nicholas Ryan

Nicholas Ryan is an experienced actor and director; he has won several awards for his stage work including the Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award. He attends college in pursuit of a BFA in Theatre Directing at the University of The Arts right here in Philadelphia.