A Musical Called The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz With An All African American Essay

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In 1974, a musical called The Wiz opened in Baltimore at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre and on Broadway in 1975. The Wiz was an urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum 's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with an all African-American cast placed within the context of 1960’s and 1970’s African-American society. The musical kept the rural Kansas setting and agrarian Oz as well as many of the other central plot devices from the novel. In 1978 Motown released a movie loosely based on the musical which starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tinman, and Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion. The movie moved the story from Kansas to Harlem and Oz to fantastical dystopian version of New York City. The Wiz has several female characters that are central to the storyline: Aunt Em, Miss One the Good Witch of the North, Evillene the Wicked Witch of the West, Evamean the Wicked Witch of the East, Glinda the Good Witch of the South, and Dorothy. All of them except for Dorothy are representative of some form of the motherly family-oriented place African-American woman hold in society. Dorothy represents a new type of female role for African-American woman in society, one that is independent and has choices about what role she wants to play in society. This paper argues that Motown’s production of The Wiz shows the creation of a new role for black women in society, one independent from the motherly family-oriented role society previously expected of them. The

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