Costumes of The Wiz Live!, The Work of Paul Tazewell, August Wilson Center


FashionAFRICANA in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, Tony Award winning Costume Designer, Paul Tazewell & the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust present





Special Opening Celebration hosted by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 6:00 P.M


Pittsburgh, PA (September 7, 2016)—FashionAFRICANA is pleased to announce the world premiere of COSTUMES of THE WIZ LIVE!, presented in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on display September 23, 2016 through November 30, 2016.

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is pleased to collaborate with FashionAFRICANA on this historic world premiere,” shared Janis Burley Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  “Programs of this kind set the standard for the type of unique, collaborative, trend-setting and preserving national work that can—and should—be featured at the cultural gem at the helm of the Cultural District.  People will leave this experience exclaiming, there’s no place like the August Wilson Center.”

This one-of-a-kind multi-media exhibition celebrates the work of Tony Award winning costume designer, Paul Tazewell and features costumes and other theatrical pieces from the critically-acclaimed NBC televised broadcast, THE WIZ LIVE!, directed by Kenny Leon.  Pittsburgh is the only city to see these costumes up close before they hit Broadway in 2017.

The exhibit will be located in the Claude Worthington Benedum Gallery,  Second Floor and gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday: 11am-6pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am-8pm; Sunday: 10am-5pm.

A special Opening Celebration will be hosted on Saturday, September 17, 2016 by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield at the August Wilson Center.  The Emerald City-themed celebration will open its doors at 6PM.  At 6:30PM there will be a VIP Private Exhibit Tour led by Paul Tazewell.  The evening’s program will begin at 7:30PM in the theater with a special presentation to Paul Tazewell as well as performances by Broadway sensation vocalist, Brynn Williams and Pittsburgh’s Kingdom People.  Following the presentation, there will be a cocktail reception at 8PM and tour of the costume exhibition.  The celebration will culminate with an Emerald City Dance Party in the August Wilson Center’s dance studio featuring DJ Nate da Phat Barber.  The hottest dance party in Pittsburgh will be re-imaged – FashionAFRICANA style – as a land of emerald green-colored beauty, FashionAFRICANA models, cocktails and great music. 

The event will be chaired by Pittsburgh’s very own Kiya Tomlin, renowned fashion designer and wife to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Proceeds from the exhibit’s opening celebration will support The Education Program for The Wiz Live! sponsored by Mike and Kiya Tomlin.  The program consists of a series of workshops targeting youth in grades 6 to 8 that will inspire students to consider careers in fashion and theatre arts.  The programming is designed to allow students to unleash their creative powers and celebrate African-American heritage.

Tickets to the opening celebration can be purchased online through Showclix at

For information on the opening gala and other special programming, please visit

Literature and theater have long held the capacity to delight, to entertain, to educate, and to carry the components of culture across generations. Over 100 years ago, the characters first given life by Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, provided generations of people a pathway for self-discovery.

Through characterization, theme, narrative, and a beloved film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz (1939), adults and children alike experienced the fantastic tale in a vivid new format. Through song, costuming, and set design, consumers of the new medium of film could envision what words could only partially convey.

In 1939, only 74 years after the abolition of slavery in the United States, the cultural contributions originated by African Americans were scarcely included within the mainstream entertainment and social landscape. The Yellow Brick Road may have embodied the pathway to the dreams of some, but it certainly was not true for all.

The Wiz! debuted on Broadway in 1975 and answered the call for a funky new and more inclusive interpretation of Baum’s tale. The musical piece won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Audiences filling the seats more closely resembled the diversity of characters portrayed in this newer more relevant rendition.

The Wiz Live! premiered live on NBC on December 3, 2015. Bursting on the scene of the small screen, the live broadcast was viewed by millions on the day of its debut.  The vibrant remake was directed by Tony-Award winner, Kenny Leon, and co-produced by Universal Television and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical.  Paul Tazewell, Tony-award winning costume designer of Hamilton, created the production’s masterful costumes. Luminaries such as Queen Latifah, Mary J Blige and Common, among others—all artists of color—drew from their meaning and memory to make this story one that was interwoven with the fabric of a many-peopled nation.

Through the initiative and foresight of local arts organization FashionAFRICANA, the larger-than-live costumes of The Wiz Live! along with set pieces, drawings, and other engaging material serve as a testament to the fine workmanship, verve, and cultural excellence—the likes of which embodied and emboldened August Wilson himself.

“Quality African-American programming like this exhibit demonstrates to our community that they are welcomed, valued and capable of greatness.  Honoring our rich culture and the talents of African-American artists encourages our youth to believe in their dreams, their possibilities and their own worth.”  Kiya Tomlin, Event Chair

“It is insightful and impressive that Demeatria Boccella and the city of Pittsburgh have chosen to present the extraordinary design work of Award winning artist Paul Tazewell. The Wiz as presented on Television was a revolutionary event and was second to none because of the singular efforts of the costume designer. To feature this exhibit as a world premiere event in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh is indeed a gift to the world.”  Kenny Leon, Tony Award winning Broadway Director and Director of THE WIZ LIVE!

“Highmark is pleased to support The Wiz Live because it represents a unique opportunity for Pittsburgh to experience firsthand the amazing costumes and story of an African-American Classic.”  Evan Frazier, Senior Vice President of Community Affairs for Highmark Health

COSTUMES of the wiz live! exhibition SUPPORTED BY:

Media Sponsor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In-Kind Support
Cirque du Soleil Theatrical and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Costumes and props from the upcoming Broadway revival of THE WIZ produced by Cirque du Soleil Theatrical.


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