Sure, they have a green witch and a good witch, but “The Wizard of Oz” and “Wicked” don’t have Funky Monkeys, the freestyling hip-hop dancers who explode onto the stage in “The Wiz” at Clarkstown High School South this weekend.
Directed and choreographed by Justin Boccitto, “The Wiz” follows much of the same ground as the classic L. Frank Baum story.
There’s Dorothy (Malika Samuel, alternating with Alyssa Gutierrez), the Scarecrow (Nick Stenson), the Tin Man (Mitchell Schneider) and the Cowardly Lion (Will Rich). And there are Munchkins.
But the sound is all pop, which was a selling point for Boccitto, who found a cast of kids who are “very into pop and lock and break dancing.”
<object id=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0″><param name=”movie” value=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /><param name=”flashVars” value=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=70670428001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” /><param name=”base” value=”http://admin.brightcove.com” /><param name=”seamlesstabbing” value=”false” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”swLiveConnect” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><embed src=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=70670428001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” base=”http://admin.brightcove.com” name=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”></embed></object>“It’s almost like ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’ on MTV,” he said. “All they want to do is dance to Michael Jackson. They know all the ‘Billy Jean’ and ‘Thriller’ choreography.”
The dancing is key to the show, said Gutierrez, one of the Dorothys.
“It’s intense, with break dancing that teenagers can relate to,” she said.
“And then you have my tap dance, which no one can relate to,” joked Schneider, who taps as the Tin Man and sings “Slide Some Oil to Me.”
“Slide Some Oil to Me”? We’re not in Kansas, anymore.
Stenson, the Scarecrow-playing senior, teaches hip-hop in Newburgh and fills his rehearsal downtime trying out new moves.
“I’m used to dancing to hip-hop songs, and these are more Motown,” he said. “But you get used to it. You work with what you have to do.”
Rich, the Lion, said his role is an acting exercise, short on dance.
The audience is in for a surprise or two, they said.
For one thing, they won’t hear “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “If I Only Had a Brain,” Stenson said, adding: “That’s not at all what this musical is like. It’s cooler.”
Schneider said audiences might also be surprised by “the sheer level of talent we have at this school.”
As the quartet journeys to the wizard of the title, they meet the Funky Monkeys, in a production number you’d never find in “The Wizard of Oz,” a freestyling, go-for-broke, lay-it-all-out mix of hip-hop can-you-top-this.
Adam Bourque is out front in the group, with a solo.
“A few of us take hip-hop classes outside of school and this gives us a chance to bring that to the theater,”?he said. “Generally there’s not a lot of room for hip-hop in musicals.”
Most of the Monkeys also appear as the Yellow Brick Road Dancers, Erica Eisenstadt said.
“When they’re singing ‘Ease on Down the Road,’ we’re right behind them, doing hip-hop dances.”
Sophomore Stephon Oh, is in his first musical. He also has an athletic solo in the number.
“A lot of the dance team joined ‘The Wiz’ and I just happened to be there when they were auditioning, so they pushed me into it,” he said. “And here I am.”
What: “The Wiz”
Where: Clarkstown High School South, 31 Demarest Mill Road, West Nyack
When: 8 p.m. March 19, 20; 2 p.m. March 21.
Tickets: $12, $10 students and seniors.
With: Joan Danahy, Shara Beitch, Kristine Calderoni, Emily Bowman, Kristine Calderoni, Rebecca Chandler, Kristen Danyluk, Katrina De Los Reyes, Alex Donnelly, Erica Eisenstadt, Colette Gelman, Jamie Giordano, Alyssa Gutierrez, Eve Johannesen, Camille Hamlet, Brooke Kallenberg, Josh Kay, Allegra Kuney, Lisa Lang, Ariana London, Sarah Mistele, Thomas Mulholland, Kristen Pinto, Jonathan Quigley, Julie Quinn, Will Rich, Nicole Riolo, Malika Samuel, Dan Schwartz, Mitchell Schneider, Sara Shameem, Kristin Spedden, Hillary Steen, Nick Stenson, Raymond (Ray Ray) Twitty, Michael Udayakumar, Nick Verga, Kelly Voglio, Sammie Weisberg, Harnsowl Ko, Allen Lipson, Brian Quinlan, Brandon Campbell, Alex Donnelly, Frank Morgera, Angelica Ebron, Brandon Gabbin, Andre Jevnik, Anthony Quirk, Angela Hong, Michael Meshberg, Alex Prosapio, Manny Silverstein, Allison Bae, Marina Dietrich, Boyu Fan, John Hanos, Rachel Kim, Jacqueline Yi, Ayas Abuasi, Noah Ben-Haim, Erica Bosso, Cara Dolan, Allison Eisenberg, Lindsay Feller, Katie Gonidakis, Julia Greenwald, Natalie Gunney, Cassie Gutierrez, Jessica Hendler, Melody Henry, Rebecca Kaufman, Julia Kupferman, Haley Lamond, Jasmine Langer, Alexis Lowman, Ambyr Marks, Nora McCarthy, Ashley McDonald, Sandi McDonald, Michael McDowell, Sarah McGlinchey, Halle Medici, Jordan Medici, Lily Medici, Skylar Moreno, Jessica Nunes, Estefany Rangel, Rebecca Riccardi, Emma Riddle, Ethan Ripps, Angel Schwartz, Farihah Shameem, Kelli Smith, Ryan Smith, Olivia Snyder, Danielle Tourloukisl, Taylor Vanni, Samantha Voglio, Arielle Wacksman