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Joel Barlow Students Ease on Down the Road

This article was written by Gabby Lebowitz and Morgan Netherwood, seniors at Joel Barlow High School.

EASTON, Conn. ? Joel Barlow High School’s theater department will bring back the '70s funk and soul on Nov. 17 as it puts on "The Wiz."

"The Wiz" is an adaptation of the movie produced in 1978 directed by Sidney Lumet, which itself is a musical reproduction of "The Wizard of Oz" from 1939 movie directed by Victor Fleming. Although the story is based upon the classic children’s movie and book, the musical promises to be contemporary and entertaining for all audiences.

Written to portray a predominately African-American cast, Barlow will be tweaking more than one concept in a project that director Diana Canova does not think of as a challenge. “The performance is really 'The Wizard of Oz' with ‘Wiz’ music,” she said.

For the past two years, Canova has brought in actors from the middle schools and elementary schools to help put on plays. In the 2010 show "The King and I," two of the main roles were played by middle school students.

That changes this year as every last munchkin will be played by a Joel Barlow classman. “High school parents want their kids to receive more stage time,” Canova said.

A new choreographer also will be joining the production, Matt Ferena, whom parents, students, teachers and the director met with enthusiasm. “He comes from a very professional background,” said Canova.

All the pieces must come together by 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, for the opening night of "The Wiz." If you are unable to catch the first performance, you can attend a  performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, or at 2 or 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.

Canova has high hopes for the play this year. “Every time I do a show, it’s like Christmas," she said. "Barlow’s actors always give me the best gift."

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