Spotlight: Kokandy Productions’ THE WIZ – Through April 16, 2017 at Theater Wit

Kokandy Productions is pleased to launch its fifth anniversary season with a revival of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical THE WIZ, with book by William F. Brown, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, directed by guest director Lili-Anne Brown, music direction by Jimmy Morehead and choreography by Breon Arzell. THE WIZ will play March 5 –April 16, 2017 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at, by calling (773) 975-8150 or in person at the Theater Wit Box Office.

THE WIZ features Sydney Charles as Dorothy, Gilbert Domally as Scarecrow, Steven Perkins as Tin Man, Chuckie Benson as Lion, Nicole Michelle Haskins as Aunt Em/Evillene, Anna Dauzvardis as Glinda, Frederick Harris as The Wiz and Angela Alise as Addaperle with Breon Arzell, Kyrie Courter, TJ Crawford, Desmond Gray, Jyreika Evelyn Guest, De’Jah Perkins, Tia Pinson and Michael Rawls.

THE WIZ is an urbanized retelling of Frank Baum’s Classic 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, in the context of 20th century African American culture. Brown’s gritty revival puts the focus on “what it means to live with intelligence, compassion and courage in today’s tough cities.” Follow the yellow brick road with a dazzling mix of rock, gospel and soul. The 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.

The production team for THE WIZ includes: Arnel Sancianco (set design), Virginia Varland (costume design), Alexander Ridgers (lighting design), Michael J. Patrick (sound design), Kirstin Johnson (sound engineer), Mealah Heidenreich (props design), Lindsay Brown (production manager), Darian Tene (asst. choreographer), Shawn Kronk (master electrician), Kait Samuels (stage manager) and Ebony Chuukwu (asst. stage manager).


About The Creative Team

Lili-Anne Brown (Director) a native Chicagoan, works as a director, actor and educator, and has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. She received the Joseph Jefferson Award in 2014 for her direction of Ahrens & Flaherty’s Dessa Rose, and a BTA Award in 2011 for her direction of Passing Strange. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, an Artistic Associate of Timber Lake Playhouse and a graduate of Northwestern University and St. Ignatius College Prep. She is a member of Actors’ Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and an Associate of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC).

Jimmy Morehead (Music Director) is thrilled to work on his first show with Kokandy. He is also the third Artistic Director of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, as well as music director for VOX3, choir master/organist at St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Burr Ridge, IL. He primarily works as a coach, accompanist and music director for the Theater Conservatory of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he has also served as Adjunct Professor of Music Theory/History and German Diction. James received his MM in Piano Performance and Music Theory from Roosevelt University and his BM from Duquesne University. As a Music Director, James has worked on See What I Wanna See in the 2013 Steppenwolf Garage, Jerry Springer: The Opera, bare (Jeff Nominated: Music Direction), Passing Strange (Jeff Nominated: Music Direction), Dessa Rose (Jeff Nominated: Music Direction), AIDA, Trouble in Tahiti, The Rainbow Connection, The Mikado, The Impresario, Barber of Seville, The Old Maid and the Thief, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Sondheim in the Park, The Wandering Scholar, The Bear, Reagan’s Children, Something Schwartz, The Way We War, Copacabana, Cupid and Psyche, Promises, Promises, Screwed Up People, Flaherty and Ahrens On and Off and The Tony Goes To, The Tony Goes II and Once, Twice, Three Times a Tony, among many others. Classically, James has performed at the Auditorium Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, Rockefeller Chapel, Chicago’s Gospel Fest 2012, Ravinia and Harold Washington Theater, among many others. He has collaborated and performed with the Juliani Ensemble, the Grande Prairie Choral Arts Singers, Anaphora, Lyric Opera Kids and ChiArts. He has also appeared as a featured pianist at the Green Mill, Mary’s Attic, the Tavern, Gentry on Halsted, Spin Nightclub, Davenport’s, the 410 Club, the Spot and the Casino.

Breon Arzell (Choreographer) is new to the Kokandy team. Most commonly known as an actor, he is new to the Chicago choreographing community. Recently his talents, and choreography, have been seen in the productions of Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes (The Hypocrites), A Wonder in my Soul and The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens Theatre) and The Mojo and the Sayso & The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions). He received the 2016 Jeff Award for Artistic Specialization, for his movement and step choreography in The Hairy Ape. Regionally: Hastings St. (Mosaic Theatre of Detroit) Purlie (M.T.D.), Now That I Can Dance (M.T.D.). Film/TV: A Rose by Any Other Name, Empire. He specializes in hip hop, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and step.

About Kokandy Productions

Kokandy Productions seeks to leverage the heightened reality of musical theater to tell complex and challenging stories with a focus on contributing to the development of Chicago-based musical theater works while raising the profile of Chicago’s storefront musical theater community. Kokandy Productions is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization.

The company’s artistic staff is comprised of Allison Hendrix (Producing Artistic Director), John D. Glover (Artistic Producer), Scot T. Kokandy (Executive Producer) and Kory Danielson (Resident Music Director).

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