The Wiz Live! airs LIVE tonight on NBC at 8 pm ET. We previewed the broadcast HERE. Watch this space for a recap and performance videos. Share your thoughts on the telecast in comments as you watch.
Congratulations NBC on a terrific production of The Wiz! Everything about that broadcast was A+ from top to bottom. There were no major mistakes. And aside from a few vocal wobbles, I didn’t notice any minor ones either.
The young actress, Shanice Williams, who played Dorothy should be fielding tons of show business offers after tonight. She popped off the screen and what a voice. The pressure she was feeling must have been enormous, but she carried that musical like a pro.
I was so excited to see Amber Riley back on my TV. Glee went off the air in March, and I needed that reminder of what a terrific singer she is. Watching her handle a well written, comedic role as the Good Witch, Addaperle, was a treat. Word on the street: Amber is headed to Broadway soon!
I was particularly impressed with Ne-Yo as the Tin Man. If he’s never done musical theater, he needs to do that, stat. Here’s an idea: Write the music for a Broadway musical, in which he has a major role. Mary J. Blige was fierce and funny as the Wicked Witch. Loved her growls and her stank faces. Queen Latifah was perfectly imperious as The Wiz and transitioned beautifully to a softer and humbled Wiz after she was unmasked. Along with Ne-You and Shanice, David Alan Grier and Broadway actor, Elijah Kelley made for an entertaining and charismatic quartet. The production really rested on talent and strength of those four central characters. There was no weak link among them. Common as the Emerald City “doorman” lording over a non-existent velvet rope made me giggle. Uzo Aduba brought a quirky sweetness to the role of Glinda the Good Witch. Nobody other than the original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, should have played Auntie Em.
One of the major problems with last year’s production, Peter Pan, was even with a few tweaks, it still came off hopelessly dated. This time, there were some careful rewrites that added current slang and references. I loved when Addaperle busted out her Apple iPad. Still, the show’s retelling of The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for the black experience in America is still as relevant today as it was back in the 70s. Can you believe NBC was seriously considering mounting The Music Man? They dodged a MAJOR bullet. Good job all around. Now get to work on next year’s production. I’m looking forward to it already.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“The Sound of Music Live!,” “Peter Pan Live!,” Oscar-winning “Chicago”) are executive producers. Kenny Leon (Tony winner, “A Raisin in the Sun”) is stage director and Matthew Diamond is TV director, with Harvey Fierstein (three-time Tony winner, “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray” and “La Cage aux Folles”) providing new written material.
Esteemed choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Dreamgirls,” “Ali”) is also on board, along with music producer Harvey Mason Jr. (“Dreamgirls, “Pitch Perfect 2”) and Stephen Oremus (“The Book of Mormon,” “Kinky Boots”) as music director, orchestrator and co-producer of the music.
“The Wiz Live!” is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.
He’s The Wiz
Addaperle (Amber Riley) and the Munchkins tell Dorothy (Shanice Williams) all about the one person who can do it all – The Wiz!
Ease on Down the Road
Dorothy, Scarecrow (Elijah Kelley), Tin Man (Ne-Yo) and the Cowardly Lion (David Alan Grier) head on down the yellow brick road to Oz.
So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard
The Wiz (Queen Latifah) introduces herself to Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
No Bad News
Wicked Witch of the West Evillene (Mary J. Blige) tells her people what they better not bring her in this song.
Brand New Day
The Winkies celebrate their liberation from Wicked Witch of the West Evillene with Dorothy and her friends.
Dorothy says goodbye to all her friends in Oz, then clicks her heels three times.