The Chattanooga Theatre Centre welcomes a team of outstanding artists from throughout the community to serve on the 94-year-old community theatre's creative staff for the upcoming season-opening musical The Wiz, said officials.
"Most of the creative talent stepping into leadership roles for The Wiz are new to our theatre, and that move fulfills one of our strategic objectives of welcoming new talent and new audiences through our doors," says Theatre Centre Executive Directer Todd Olson. "The Wiz calls for a multicultural cast of performers, and we set a priority on attracting the best, most diverse team to lead the artistic vision for the show. We've found that in these professionals."
The Wiz will be guest directed by Shane Morrow, co-founder of Jazzanooga, a cultural institution dedicated to revitalizing and sustaining the local and regional art and music communities. Cinnamon Halbert-Smith, a dance instructor at two local schools, will be the guest choreographer. Set design will be by Rondell Crier, guest designer, and Sarah Miecielica, the theatre's resident designer. Terrance Wright will be guest costume designer.
The Wiz, a musical sensation that won seven Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway, opens Friday, Sept. 15, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 1. The popular musical follows Dorothy on her journey to the Land of Oz, where she travels on a road paved in rock, gospel and soul.
Biographies of The Wiz creative team:
SHANE MORROW (Director) is a Connecticut native who has emerged as one of Chattanooga’s leading advocates in promoting diversity and inclusion of the arts since his arrival in 2003. He founded and currently directs two distinctive community arts initiatives, THECREATIVEUNDERGROUND, a theatrical and music production company that provides creative community showcases for Chattanooga’s diverse and often underrepresented communities in the arts, and Jazzanooga, which started as a one-day community festival in 2011 and has grown to become a cultural arts and music education nonprofit that offers year-round programming and an annual month-long celebration that promotes Chattanooga's extraordinary cultural heritage. He received the Theatre Centre's 2005-2006 Miss Annie Award for Best Actor for A Raisin in the Sun. He has directed and produced over 100 musical showcases and theatrical performances including Sing, Mahalia Sing, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, Soul of Broadway Songbook, God’s Trombones, The Sounds of Motown Tribute, and The Life and Times of Big Mama Thornton, which he wrote and produced. Mr. Morrow, an accomplished jazz pianist, music and theatrical director, and vocalist continues to merge his passion for performing arts and cultural diversity to make a positive impact in the community in which he lives. He was recently awarded the Unsung Heroes Award from the Footprint Foundation for his work in advancing arts and culture in Chattanooga. Jazzanooga received national recognition from international artist/actor Usher along with State Farm Insurance for promoting music and art education within underserved communities, which was showcased in the national concert series, State Farm Neighborhood Sessions. Through his ongoing series of community arts programming and innovative collaborations, he aspires to bring artists and creative people together to pursue a positive future together, to inspire youth, and to engender pride in our community through the power of the arts.
RONDELL CRIER (Co-Set Designer) is originally from New Orleans and moved to Chattanooga after Hurricane Katrina. As a young artist, he traveled the world, exhibiting in Paris, Florence, Rome, Milan, France, Berlin, and Amsterdam, enjoying commissions from such clients as Swatch Watch, United Nations, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Jazz and Heritage Festival, and MTV. An executive director of programming of YAYA for 12 years, Mr. Crier produced creative projects and programs, managed artists, and engaged over 30 core youth to train and empower under a guild-structured mentoring model. Today, Mr. Crier's focus is on creative place-making. His Studio Everything serves as a multi-engagement facility to provide residents access to professional artists, mentorship, tools, space, and additional resources.
SARAH MIECIELICA (Co-Set Designer) received an M.F.A. in Scene Design from the University of Arkansas. She has worked professionally as a designer and props artisan at many theaters across the country, including the Alley Theatre in Houston, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, MO, Northern Stage in White River Junction, VT, and McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. Ms. Miecielica and her husband moved to Chattanooga four years ago and she quickly became involved with the Theatre Centre. Some designs she is most proud of on the Theatre Centre stage include those for Les Miserables, Into the Woods, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Of Mice and Men, and Dividing the Estate.
TERRANCE WRIGHT (Costume Designer) has been seen in many productions throughout the city and has toured nationally with a children's theatre based in Richmond, VA. Some past shows he has appeared in at the Theatre Centre include Bye Bye Birdie, The Music Man, RENT, and Anything Goes. The Wiz marks his first opportunity to serve as costume designer for a production of this size and he is grateful to all who believe and support his artistic vision.