Like most people I grew up watching the beloved classic film, “The Wizard of Oz,” a movie I still enjoy to this day. In the sixth grade I was introduced to the 1978 movie version of “The Wiz” and I honestly did not like it. So, I was very surprised to find I enjoyed “The Wiz Live.”
“The Wiz Live” aired on Dec. 3, 2015 as a part of NBC’s music holiday tradition. It was the third production the network has done, the last two being “Sound of Music” in 2013 and “Peter Pan” in 2014.
“The Wiz” is set to revive to Broadway in the 2016-2017 season, therefore the NBC production was meant to introduce a new generation to the musical. It was very well casted compared to the last two years NBC has done a live musical event.
The cast included Elijah Kelly (“Hairspray”) as Scarecrow, Ne-Yo as Tin-Man, David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Amber Riley (“Glee”) as Addapearle, Mary J. Blige as Evillene, Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”) as Glinda and Queen Latifah as the Wiz. The adaptation also starred Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway cast, as Auntie Em and newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy.
Williams was absolutely amazing as Dorothy. Her voice is fantastic and she fit the role perfectly. It is hard to believe she is 18-years-old and it was her first time on screen.
Kelly was fantastic as the Scarecrow. Widely known for playing Seaweed in the 2007 movie version of “Hairspray,” it was no surprise he was an amazing singer and dancer. He nailed every song he sang and had great chemistry with the rest of the cast.
Ne-Yo was amazing as Tin-Man. He put a lot of heart and soul into the role. His dancing was great as well. He and Kelly co-wrote the new song for the television event, “We Got This,” which was sung by the four main characters at the end of the first act.
Grier was fantastic as the Cowardly Lion. His voice was a pleasure to listen to and his dancing was great as well. He did a great job showing character development and had the best growl.
Riley, of course was one of the best singers in the cast. Having been on “Glee” for six seasons, it was not a surprise when she nailed her songs. Her character was hilarious and she made the character bubbly, as well as lovable.
Latifah was fabulous as the Wiz. She had the singing voice for the role and played the character with the right amount of sass.
Blige was great as Evilline. Fantastic singing and she brought sass to the role. Aduba was fantastic as Glinda. She has a great voice. It was amazing to see Mills as Auntie Em. It is always great to see actors from the original production in anything regarding a movie, or revamp of some sort. All three actresses only had one song, but that was enough to make the audience want more.
The costumes and set were amazing. The dancers/ensemble were fantastic to watch and the music was better than I remembered it. It is probably because I thought the singing and actors were better than the movie. No offense to Michael Jackson (RIP).
Overall, it was an amazing production and I would love to see any of these actors in “The Wiz” revival on Broadway.