The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre has been touted as a space with myriad possibilities, many of which the Dallas Theater Center hasn't even tapped into yet. But its production of The Wiz will make you say, "Toto, I don't think we're in a conventional musical theater production any more."
The concept that everyone's going to be talking about is the audience pods, in which 180 theatergoers will be rolled around throughout the production, beginning with the tornado scene and following Dorothy and her friends on the journey to Oz. The pods won't return to their "home" slot until Dorothy returns home, so depending on which pod you're in will affect how you view the show. They're not all moved at once, or even in the same direction.
There are 12 of these pods, each seating 15 people (three rows of five seats), on swiveling casters. A crew of 12 (eight hired specifically for this production) will move the pods throughout the show. Don't worry, it's slow. So you won't need to be buckled in, and there are no signs with disclaimers about people with heart conditions, pregnant women or needing to be "this tall" to ride this ride.
Ticketbuyers are asked if they'd like seats that move when they make reservations.
Next week, look for an interview with Kevin Moriarty on TheaterJones, and Mark Lowry will also have a feature about this unique idea in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But for now, here's some video shot in rehearsal this week of the pods being moved. You can also view a DTC-produced video about the pods here.
The show officially opens on Friday, July 15, but performances begin July 8 with a pay-what-you-can preview. The tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the seating is limited, so get there early and line up.
Also, there's an "Ease on Down the Road" block party at the AT&T Performing Arts Center from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight. Even if you're not seeing the show—which is a collaboration with the Dallas Black Dance Theatre—come for family activities, food and a performance from disco-loving band Le Freak.