Actress Ines Nassara performs the role of Dorothy in Kent Gash’s exciting new production of The Wiz at Ford’s Theatre this spring. Ines spoke with us about taking on the role of Dorothy, what The Wiz means to her and the costar she can’t wait to meet.
When did you first encounter The Wiz? Have you seen the original film, or recent LIVE version?
I first encountered The Wiz when Montgomery County Summer Dinner Theatre did it. I remember loving the music and how much room there was to play and explore with all of the characters and the design aspects. I also remember seeing part of the movie at my friend’s house in high school, and knowing of some of the music from that.
What should audiences expect to see in this telling of the Wizard of Oz story? How is this story different from the original?
The music of The Wiz is incredible. Definitely different from the Wizard of Oz: it’s jazz, soul and R&B influenced, but it is still musical theatre. Even though artistically there are some obvious and subtle differences, the story is relatable. I can’t believe I’m doing this show and this role! It’s been a dream of mine to be in an all-black cast.
When you have a relatable story with different faces that’s such a powerful thing—makes us seem less different from each other. Like Dorothy, we all try to conquer fear and doubt in times of hopelessness. We thrive better when we have a helping hand or more. Life can easily and quickly take us out of our comfort zone, but we’re always better for that.
What is it about Dorothy’s character that can inspire young people?
Dorothy perseveres. She has a great sense of believing and persistence throughout the show. No matter how hard it gets, Dorothy can admit that it’s difficult, but her positive light gets her friends to Oz and helps them believe in all that they already are. It’s important for kids to learn to believe in themselves no matter how large the impediment.
How does performing in a musical at Ford’s add to the experience of a show for you?
To do an all-black production at Ford’s when, in Lincoln’s time, that would have never been allowed, is amazing to me. To perform an all-black show in D.C. in a historic building especially dedicated to Lincoln is pretty unreal.
Have you worked with your castmates or Director Kent Gash before? What are you looking forward to about those collaborations?
I worked with Kent Gash on a workshop for a show called U.G.L.Y. that was written by Darius Smith, our music director for The Wiz. Kent is such a clear and specific director and sees things actors can do that you didn’t see in yourself yet. He’ll push you there with patience and clarity and belief. And I think Darius is a genius. I’m such a fan of him and his work and agree with everything he does musically.
I’ve collaborated with a good number of the actors, and am super pumped and honored to work with so many dancing, singing, acting STARS. It’ll be wonderful to apply a new level of discipline and share this story with a creative team I totally trust and believe in and to do so with an incredibly talented cast.
What are you most looking forward to about playing Dorothy?
I’m excited to make the role my own while still telling this relatable story. But I’m most excited for Toto!
Come to Ford's Theatre March 9-May 12 and discover where the yellow brick road leads!
Lauren Beyea is Associate Director of Communications and Marketing at Ford’s Theatre, where she oversees media relations. She is editor of the Ford’s Theatre Blog. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenBeyea.