EXCLUSIVE: The Wiz was a wow — that’s what we examination on each train and Broadway print behind in a mid-1970s (the entire representation line came from Marilyn Stasio’s examination in a long-gone Cue magazine). An amiable RB reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum’s story of Dorothy’s tornado’ed outing to a Land of Oz, her companions a Cowardly Lion, a Scarecrow and a Tinman; her benefactress Glinda and her nemesis, a Wicked Witch of a West, not to discuss aged flim-flam himself, a Wizard, The Wiz began opening on Christmas Eve, 1974 and ran for 1,672 performances. Along a approach it won 7 Tony Awards including best musical, and spawned a 1978 box bureau explosve starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (cost: $24M; domestic take: $13M) that nonetheless grown an ardent fan base.
The Broadway uncover was star-packed then, and so it is in the latest incarnation as The Wiz Live! The third in NBC’s annual live telecasts of Broadway musicals, it will go adult Dec 3, following final year’s Peter Pan and a before year’s The Sound of Music. The expel includes a 1975 Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as Aunt Em, and some-more boldface names than we can shake a burning brush at: Queen Latifah as a Wiz; Common as a Gatekeeper, renamed a Bouncer; Uzo Aduba as Glinda; Mary J. Blige as negatory magician Evilene; Amber Riley good magician Addaperle; David Alan Grier as Lion; Ne-Yo as Tin Man; Elijah Kelley as Scarecrow; and an different powerhouse triple threat, Shanice Williams, as Dorothy.
At a helm is Kenny Leon, a executive of odd attraction who staged not usually a shining Broadway reconstruction of A Raisin In The Sun though also a pre-Hamilton swat low-pitched Holler If Ya Hear Me. The uncover is a co-production of NBC and Cirque du Soleil, that skeleton to move it to Broadway subsequent season, presumably with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, presumably not, they told me during a new review during Grumman Studios in Bethpage, Long Island, where these shows have been mounted on sound stages where jetliners once were minted.
Meron and Zadan, a Oscar producers and aged hands during bringing musicals to TV, have had their minds set on The Wiz for a prolonged time, they told Deadline.
Craig Zadan: There’a a deep, low love for this uncover in a African American village and it’s separate down a center as to where a love comes from. Queen Latifah, for example, pronounced that it was saying Stephanie Mills sing “Home” in a strange Broadway prolongation that done her wish to be a performer. Her bend of The Wiz comes from a show. But when we were doing a Oscars and we were entertainment “Glory,” Common pronounced he was spooky with the movie of The Wiz and when we told him were were doing it, he pronounced ‘I’ve got to be in this.’ Everyone wanted to be partial of it.
Neil Meron: When we did Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 1997 with a multicultural expel [including Brandy, Bernadette Peters, Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg and Jason Alexander], a really subsequent uncover we designed was The Wiz. This was in 1998, we had a book written, we were casting, we’d hired Robert Iscove, who’d destined Cinderella, a director, as a TV film for The Wonderful World Of Disney. Paula Abdul was going to do a choreography and we found an different during a time to play Dorothy — the different was Anika Noni Rose. Anika was prepared to sing “Home” for a Upfronts, during a Palace Theatre.
Craig Zadan: For her audition, she walked in off a travel and sang “Home,” and we indispensable an ambulance to collect us adult off a floor.
Neil Meron: And afterwards ABC found there was a problem with Universal, that owned a film rights, and it all only fell apart. But The Wiz has always been on a list of projects. What we didn’t know this time was that Cirque was formulation to do it on Broadway and they had hired Kenny. It was kind of a ideal marriage.
Craig Zadan: One of a pivotal elements for us was Fatima [choreographer Fatima Robinson], who did the “Happy” series with Pharrell Williams for a Oscars; we were blown divided by how she choreographed and her professionalism. She choreographed a film of Dreamgirls and Bill Condon had raved to us about how good she was to work with.
Another pivotal choice was Harvey Mason Jr., who constructed a soundtrack for Dreamgirls and worked with Justin Timberlake and Usher. We thought, with Fatima we’re going to get non-Broadway, really authentic African-American choreography. With Harvey Mason Jr. we’re going to get authentic Black RB song and it’s not going to sound like Broadway array rope music. The change comes with a approach song is constructed for RB albums, that starts with stroke tracks. And that’s what he specializes in.
Neil Meron: Of course, The Wiz was never a normal Broadway measure to start with; it had an RB vibe.
Craig Zadan: And we won’t hear exaggeration of a strange score, though it breathes new life into a songs. And a other partial is Stephen Oremus, who did Kinky Boots and so many other things, he has a feet in Broadway and a feet in contemporary song and he’s means to move a fibre charts and a rest from the Broadway arena. The multiple of Stephen and Harvey together creates for a mutation that we find exciting.
Neil Meron: And let’s not forget a other Harvey, Harvey Fierstein, who’s combined abyss and clarity and his code of humor.
Craig Zadan: It’s a bit funnier, and it’s a bit some-more emotional.
Last year, Meron and Zadan sealed a co-production understanding with a Shubert Organization, and they’ve been looking during plays and musicals, carrying homed in on a few they wish to develop. Meanwhile, as shortly as a screen comes down on a Wiz broadcast, they lapse full-time to work on Bombshell for NBC.
Craig Zadan: Bombshell will get a full, amount courtesy after The Wiz, and we’ve been given a choice of producing The Wiz with Cirque on Broadway if we wish to.
That will expected count on a formula from Thursday night’s telecast — and a assembly outcome on either or not, 40 years on, The Wiz remains a wow.