The Wiz Live! will air tonight December 3rd at 8PM ET only on NBC. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are the producers behind NBC’s The Wiz Live!, which is an adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz. The original Broadway show was written as urbanized reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum’s classic titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The television special will star fresh face Shanice Williams as Dorothy, as well as Hollywood veterans, including Queen Latifah (The Wiz), David Alan Grier (The Cowardly Lion), Stephanie Mills (Auntie Em), Common (Bouncer/Gatekeeper), Ne-Yo (Tin Man), Uzo Aduba (Glinda, Good Witch of the South), Mary J. Blige (Evillene, The Wicked Witch of the West), Amber Riley (Addaperle, Good Witch of the North), Elijah Kelley (Scarecrow), and others. Mills, who played the role of Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz,” will fill the role of Auntie Em for the live televised production. Williams, 19, who will be taking over the role of Dorothy, was discovered through an open casting call.
Additionally, NBC’s production of the The Wiz Live! will be a modernized adaptation, featuring trendy dance moves and a new song titled “We Got It,” which was written by castmembers Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelley. The R&B singer Ne-Yo is no stranger to songwriting as he has written hit songs for Beyoncé (“Irreplaceable,” “Flaws and All”), Pitbull (“Time of Our Lives”), Rihanna (“Take a Bow,” “Unfaithful”), Mario (“Let Me Love You”), and others. In an interview with Broadway World, Kelley praised the songwriter, stating: “Ne-Yo did an incredible job with the lyrics. I did the music. Ne-Yo is a genius to be able to verbalize that in a very specific way. I think when the world hears it, it’ll become bigger than just a song. It’s moment in time in a legendary production that we’re blessed to be a part of.”
Likewise, Shanice Williams spoke with The Grio, where she confirmed that the choreography would be “very modern.” The Wiz Live!‘s Dorothy continued, “All the steps that we do now — whip, Nae Nae, all that — in the most classiest way. Nothing ratchet. It’s going to be really good. A lot of hip hop.” The Grio also interviewed the television production’s choreographer Fatima Robinson, who confirmed that the dancers would be “hitting the Quan” and “hitting the Nae Nae.” This year’s special is co-produced by Cirque Du Soleil. Scott Zeiger, President and Managing Director of Cirque Theatrical, expressed that this partnership will “add some theatrical magic to some key moments.” Zeiger hinted that some of the “key moments” may include scenes involving flying monkeys, tornadoes, and Emerald City.
The Wiz Live! will be NBC third live musical production. Past specials include The Sound of Music Live! (2013) and Peter Pan Live! (2014). Fans across the nation have been posing with promotional merchandise to prepare for tonight’s television special.