5 Reasons We Can't Wait to Tune in for The Wiz Live!
There’s no place like Oz—and tomorrow night, NBC is bringing the fantasy land right to your TV screen. The network’s brand-new live-action musical, The Wiz Live!, airs at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. Based on the original Broadway play The Wiz that inspired a 1978 film of the same name starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, the latest incarnation once again retells the classic story from The Wizard of Oz with an all-black cast—and it’s packing some major star power. Here are five reasons we can’t wait to see the Emerald City reimagined with a modern twist.
The All-Star Cast
As soon as we heard that Queen Latifah would playing the part of The Wiz, we were sold. But she’s not the only star who has us tuning in. Onscreen, she’ll be joined by Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch of the West, Uzo Aduba as Glinda the Good Witch of the South, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man, and Common as the Bouncer, an ultra-modern take on the role formerly referred to as the Gatekeeper.
As with NBC’s past live-action musicals, The Wiz Live! will stay true to its roots for the most part. That means you’ll get to hear R&B showtunes like “Ease on Down the Road” and a rendition of “Home.” But while the music and script will follow the original musical by William F. Brown for the most part, it will also feature entirely new material by Tony-winning playwright Harvey Fierstein, as well as new songs. Director Kenny Leon recently told playbill.com that he enlisted Ne-Yo to help with the songwriting process for one new song titled “We Got It.” And you can count on the fresh material to be performed again: The play will be revived on Broadway during the 2016-2017 season.
The magical world of Oz requires some extraordinary outfits, and from what we’ve seen so far, The Wiz Live! delivers just that. Created by Tony-nominated costume designer Paul Tazewell, the show’s wardrobe looks as out-of-this-world as it’s meant to. From Mary J. Blige’s structured black and burgundy gown and matching hat to Queen Latifah’s head-to-toe beaded green ensemble, the costumes are elaborate down to every last detail. Just check out Uzo Aduba’s gold feather-adorned outfit and tell us that she doesn’t look like she’s ready to float down the yellow brick road as Glinda the Good Witch.
Dorothy’s squad is reaching new heights—literally. Tomorrow’s show is co-produced by Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical, which means that there will be no shortage of acrobats and skilled dancers on the stage. According to Leon, you’ll even get to see Dorothy channel her inner Tinkerbell and fly during the production’s pivotal tornado scene.
The Return of an Original Cast Member
Talk about a homecoming. Stephanie Mills starred as Dorothy in the Broadway production of The Wiz in 1975, and she’ll be back on stage in NBC’s live event. But this time, Mills is playing the role of Auntie Em, while Shanice Williams takes on the part that she once portrayed. We can only imagine the words of wisdom that the former Dorothy passed down to her successor before they hit the stage together.