“Our city has progressed in so many wonderful ways in the arts and creative realms and I would love for this to continue on a much larger scale for Birmingham. There are some truly talented and creative people here and the world must know our talents.”
Names: Abijah Cunningham (Dorothy)
Russell Alexander (Scarecrow)
Anthony Washington (The Lion)
Kendall Johnson (Tinman)
Creative Role: Cast of Red Mountain Theatre Company’s The Wiz
Creative Industry: Performing Arts
What would like to see happen in Birmingham in the next 5 years?
Abijah Cunningham: I would love to see more Broadway shows come to Birmingham.
Russell Alexander: One thing that I would love is for more people to become interested in live theatre. There are some great shows that are being hosted in this city and I feel that everyone should experience theatre as much as possible.
Anthony Washington: Our city has progressed in so many wonderful ways in the arts and creative realms and I would love for this to continue on a much larger scale for Birmingham. There are some truly talented and creative people here and the world must know our talents.
Kendall Johnson: I’d like to see more of a variety in entertainment.
What can the audience expect from Red Mountain Theatre Company’s performance of The Wiz?
AC: Expect to laugh, cry, dance, and just an overall wonderful experience.
RA: The audience should expect a beautiful story about love and friendship. There will be laughs and maybe a few happy tears, but overall it’s going to be a really great show. I know the audience will love it!
AW: The audience can expect a musical powerhouse that will send their spirits soaring. They will leave uplifted and totally mesmerized by this story of love and true friendship.
KJ: Audiences can expect an immensely talented and well-directed cast and they should expect to fully take the journey with Dorothy and friends.
Most of you have jobs outside of the theatre world. What inspired you to get involved with RMTC?
AC: I was inspired by the beautiful art in telling stories and being able to express yourself.
RA: I was attending RMTC’s production of “Les Miserables” and thought it was a phenomenal show. I saw they were doing The Wiz and I knew I had to be there. I am also a Theatre major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and I was very interested in being a part of this process and learning as much as I can from this company and its team.
AW: I have also had a strong passion for musical theatre and music overall. RMTC has been an amazing professional theatre company where I can truly express myself creatively. RMTC has allowed me to be a better person and a stronger lover of the Arts.
KJ: A friend suggested that I audition for Smokey Joe’s Café a million years ago and I’ve been going forward since then.
How did each of you prepare for your role in this production?
AC: I prepared myself by watching video clips, and the original movie. I also, wanted to see in what aspects could I relate to the character.
RA: I read through my script every chance I got so that I not only understood my lines and my character, but I also understood the show as a whole and how and why I fit into it. Talking with Rufus, Scott, and Dominique about their analyses, and ideas for the show and having them work with us so closely and affectively in such a short matter of time, made me want to take in all I could and present work that everyone could be proud of.
AW: I’ve prepared for this role by researching this story by watching the movie and stage productions. I’ve also taken singing lesson to learn how to breathe properly and to have a stronger singing voice.
KJ: I ordered my script early and read it a few times just to become comfortable with it. Then I began to think, “who is the Tinman and how does Kendall relate to him?”
How did your character change you as an individual?
AC: The role of Dorothy helped me realize, I can overcome any obstacles in life, and that I’m more than conqueror.
RA: This character has made me examine myself more. It required me to think back on times when I was told I couldn’t do something, or times I let others make me feel unworthy, or anytime I never felt smart enough. The scarecrow faced all of these issues, yet he still kept pushing towards getting what he wanted and with determination and belief in himself, he finally does. The world can make people very self-conscious along the way, and I know it’s very easy to want to give up at times, but as long as we stay determined, optimistic, and really work towards what we want, we can have anything. The scarecrow has helped reiterate that to me and has me even more confidence in myself. For that I thank him.
AW: The Lion has taught me to always be myself not what anybody thinks about me. My character has also given me strength and courage to go after my dreams and step out on faith to go for the gold in all of my life’s endeavors.
KJ: It confirmed some personal things for me that I had been in question about. I’m like the Tin Man in many ways.
Three of you are friends outside of the theatre. How does your friendship off stage affect your chemistry on stage?
AC: I think every experience that we’ve had on stage together, helps us build a greater bond.
RA: Even though I am just meeting the other cast members for the first time during this process, we have become very close in these last couple weeks. From the start they welcomed me in, got to know me, allowed me to get to know them, and have truly showed nothing but love. That makes me confident to perform with them because I know that we can trust each other. The love that those four friends share is already present in Kendall, Abijah, Anthony, and myself. We don’t have to “act” as friends; it really is a genuine connection.
AW: It has made our relationship stronger by working with each other and I take certain great attributes from each one of them and apply it to my life for better success. Being friends just make the entire process better, I believe, for each one of us.
KJ: The friendships offstage help to make what’s done on stage feel more natural and not like it is work. It makes the whole process more honest.