"There are many overtones of "The Wiz" mixed into the Theatre Project Company's production of "The Wizard of Oz," but the blend works, thanks to solid direction and a glorious performance by Darryl Maximilian Robinson. The result is a charming, warm, highly entertaining evening of the L. Frank Baum classic..the evening belongs to Robinson, whose Cowardly Lion steals the show so slickly that he might be considered a threat to Brink's, Wells Fargo and Mercantile Trust." -- Joe Pollack, A Happy Evening In Oz For Kids Of All Ages, The St. Louis Post-Dispach, Tuesday December 4, 1984.
"...Darryl Maximilian Robinson as "The Wiz," stands tallest in sheer stage presence." -- Dale Sandusky, The Tribune of New Albany, Ind., Friday February 17, 1989.
During The 1980s, Darryl Maximilian Robinson Had The Great Joy of Going 'Over The Rainbow' as The Cowardly Lion In A Traditional Stage Musical Version of The Wizard of Oz And He Mastered How to 'Ease On Down The Road' in the title role in The Wiz!
During the late 70s, and throughout the 80s, there were many successful and well-received productions of the Tony Award-winning best musical The Wiz staged around the United States in regional theatres and on tours. One revival of The Wiz that is of interest was one staged in the winter of 1989 with a multicultural cast by director / producer Bekki Jo Schneider at The Derby Dinner Playhouse of Clarksville, Indiana just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Schneider's cast included Shirese Hursey as Dorothy, K. Bartholomew Ray as The Scarecrow, Stanley White as The Tin Man, Mark Lawrence as The Cowardly Lion, and 1981 Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Reviewer's Recognition Outstanding Thespian of the Season Award Winner and future 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Outstanding Actor Award Winner Darryl Maximilian Robinson as The Wiz.
The 1989 Derby Dinner Playhouse revival of The Wiz was performed in-the-round and featured choreography by Barbara Cullen-Bauer. Considered a break-through Broadway show for African-American performers of musical theatre, alongside Purlie and Raisin, Charlie Smalls' and William F. Brown's The Wiz continues to serve as a wonderful, creative example of black artistic history in the U.S.
During the fall of 1984, after a successful encore season of professional summer stock roles with The Enchanted Hills Playhouse of Syracuse, Indiana, Darryl Maximilian Robinson was playing such parts as Emperor Kublai Khan of China in The Wonderful World of Marco Polo, the black Revolutionary War hero Prince Whipple in Give Me Liberty! and preparing to appear as A Featured Performer in an adaptation of Thomas Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales all while on the 1984-85 MUNY / Student Theatre Project Company Tour out of St. Louis. While dilligently working under this contract, Darryl Maximilian Robinson earned critical praise as The Cowardly Lion in The Theatre Project Company of St. Louis 1984 traditional stage musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz well-directed by Deborah Lynn Wickes at The New City School of The Central West End.