The yellow brick road has taken a turn into Downtown Pittsburgh.
Last December, a live television adaptation of The Wiz was viewed by more than 11 million people. One element of the production’s success was the strikingly colorful costumes, which are now on display at the August Wilson Center.
“I love Eveline, and this was the costume that was worn by Mary J. Blige,” said Demeatria Boccella, co-founder of Pittsburgh’s FashionAFRICANA, which works to expand society’s standards of beauty.
“I love it," she said, tracing lines of green and black with her eyes. "It’s fierce. My next favorite would be Glenda because of the fiber optics. It’s kind of hard (to choose). I love them all.”
The organization is presenting the exhibit of unique costumes produced by Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.
Costume designer Paul Tazewell recently won a Tony for his work on the smash hit Hamilton, and an Emmy for his work on The Wiz Live!
“We’re just really excited to be able to present his work in this format, and it’s the first time ever where he’s had a solo show celebrating his work,” Boccella said.
Pittsburgh is the only city with the chance to see the costumes in person before they head to Broadway for a production slated to begin next spring.
For Boccella, and much of the African American community, The Wiz has held cultural significance that spans multiple generations.
It premiered as a 1975 Broadway production, and was adapted into a film starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in 1978.
“It was really exciting to be able to watch it with my 9-year-old daughter and my husband,” said Boccella of the recent television adaptation. “It was historic, and it meant a lot.”
Boccella said she’s hopeful that this exhibit can build on the momentum of recent work featured at the August Wilson Center and bring a greater appreciation to black art in the city.
Costumes from The Wiz Live! will be on display through Nov. 30.