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Newark actress to make professional debut in The Wiz revival at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester

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A Newark-trained actress will be making her professional debut in the upcoming revival of The Wiz, to be staged in Manchester from next month.

Samantha Shuma will be starring in the Hope Mill Theatre production ­— the first new UK production of the hit musical and film in more than a decade.

The show will run from Wednesday, November 24, to Sunday, January 16, at Hope Mill Theatre.

Headshot of Samantha Shuma (51938978)
Headshot of Samantha Shuma (51938978)

Samantha has had to keep her casting a secret since finding out in August, but after the official announcement from the theatre company she is now able to share her excitement with friends and family.

She said: “It’s all a bit crazy to be honest. I’ve got so much love and support from everyone so I’m a bit blown away.

“This is my first professional debut show, and it’s amazing. I feel like saying it all just makes it feel more real.”

Poster of The Wiz (52054318)
Poster of The Wiz (52054318)

Samantha’s passion for performing started at three at the Elaine Varney School of Dance and she went on to study at Newark Academy before joining the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama.

Then after graduating from MADD in 2020 Samantha was signed by Leagh-Hicks Associates, who told her about The Wiz audition a few months ago.

Samantha attended the first round of auditions at the theatre in Manchester and then attended a recall session in London.

Casting list for The Wiz (52054296)
Casting list for The Wiz (52054296)

She said: “I’d like to say thank you to my college MADD, JME Dance Company and also the Elaine Varney School of Dance.”

Matthew Xia, Actors Touring Company artistic director, will be directing the production, with musical supervision and orchestration by Sean Green and choreography by Leah Hill.

Matthew told Whats On Stage: “The Wiz is approaching its 50th anniversary, it now exists within the canon of mainstream musicals and it’s due time for some bold reinvention.

“Originally a funk and soul-based analogy for the African-American experience, in 2021 Manchester we’re offering a contemporary take on the discovery of self-determination and black joy with this celebration of black culture across African diaspora.”

Rehearsals start at the end of this month ready for curtain up on November 24.

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