Watermark on the Fringe: Wanzie with a Z

By : Rick Claggett
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Who can tell a story better than Michael Wanzie? Three Wanzie’s can.

Wanzie with a Z is the real-life journey of actor/playwright Michael Wanzie from age six to 60. Josh Lefkowitz stars as young Mikey Wanzie age six to 17, and he lays the groundwork for what will certainly become a multi-award-winning Fringe fave. Mike Wanzie, age 17-30, is played by Joshua Roth, who gives us the coming-of-age story. The cast is completed by Wanzie, played by himself from age 30- 60. His role helps the audience, as much as Wanzie, make sense of the first 30 years.

Lefkowitz is superb in his role. He will have you laughing and falling for the adorable Mikey. Roth is equally as loveable up as a Mike-on-the-move; destined to make something of himself. Lefkowitz and Roth perfectly embody Wanzie’s story telling ability. And what a story it is: Performing for hot dogs, battling Disney, battling religion, celebrated choreographer and much more.

Michael Wanzie wrote Wanzie with a Z and is directed by Orlando’s Broadway phenom, Kenny Howard. The two are a true dream team. The story seamlessly blends three periods of Wanzie’s life as he answers the question of how he got where he is and who he is because of it.

The show is both hilarious and moving. It is a courageous and honest look behind one of Orlando’s most important theatrical and LGBTQ figures. Wanzie has a following and his shows, rightly so, do well. Wanzie with a Z sets itself apart as one of his best. This is the Wanzie production you do not want to miss. If you have ever felt like an outcast or if you have any connection to the LGBTQ community, this show should be required viewing. You will be better for it.

I laughed! I cried! It was better than CATS!

Running through May 28 at the Orange Venue. For more information, go to orlandofringe.org

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