NBC Picks the Wiz as Next Musical – Here's Our Wishful Casting for the Wiz Live
NBC had been debating whether to choose The Music Man or The Wiz as its next one-night-stand musical. Hooray, they picked the Wiz! I love The Music Man, but it’s been on television before and it wouldn’t bring anything new and different to the tube. The Wiz, on the other hand, would allow the network to chase after some major talent in the music world.
The Wiz won seven Tony awards in 1975, including Best Musical. A movie version was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne, Nipsy Russell and Richard Pryor. It bombed. The show hasn’t been seen on Broadway since. You would be hard-pressed to find another seven-time Tony Award winning show which has not experienced a revival, so the next part of NBC’s announcement is long overdue: the show will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil, which will present it as a 2016-2107 Broadway revival. Yay! Harvey Fierstein will work on the original book, while Kenny Leon will direct the TV and Broadway production.
The Carrie Underwood-helmed Sound of Music Live did huge ratings for NBC, but Peter Pan Live dropped off significantly. Allison Williams did an excellent job as Pan, whereas Underwood was game but Under-matched. The lack of familiarity with Peter Pan as a stage show and Allison Williams as an actress probably affected the Pan ratings more than anything else. But this time NBC needs bigger star power. Although I doubt they’ll get Beyonce (she’d never take that risk), there are a number of dynamite stars who would have an impact. Here are our picks for The Wiz Live casting.
Stephanie Mills played Dorothy the first time around and it would be nice to see her given a role somewhere else in the production. But who should play Dorothy? I would just prefer to give it to Anika Noni Rose and call it a day. She can sing, she can act, and she can sing. The movie cast Diana Ross, so one doesn’t need to be a teen. However, I’m sure this is going to go to some kind of popstar. They’ll beg Jennifer Hudson. If that doesn’t work they should think about Janelle Monae.
Titus Burgess (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) can sing, act and make people laugh. This is a no-brainer.
The Tin Man
I’ve seen great ideas for the role of the Tin Man. Bruno Mars and Usher are my favorites. Since NBC pretty much owes its continued existence as a network to The Voice, let’s say Usher gets the role.
If I ran NBC I would try to steal from Empire every chance I got, so Jussie Smollett would be my first call. Or go a different way and call Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def.
Glinda the Good Witch
Dee Dee Bridgewater won a Tony Award for her Glinda the Good Witch. She’s a superb Jazz vocalist and three-time Grammy winner. So it will take somebody huge to step into these shoes. There’s only one name I’ll consider here – Audra McDonald. Duh. It was such a waste for NBC to use her in a five-second part in The Sound of Music LIVE!
The Wicked Witch
Mabel King (Mama from two seasons of What’s Happening!!) was an accomplished stage performer and she brought the kick-butt sensibility to the Wicked Witch. How about Patti LaBelle? They got her for Empire so she would probably be game.
The Wizard was played André De Shields in the original Broadway show. De Shields is still active on stage and has a commanding presence. Andre Braugher can do anything, so he can definitely be the Wizard. See: Brooklyn 9-9.
Auntie Em and Uncle Henry
Niecy Nash is so much more talented than anyone ever gives her credit for. She can make you laugh (Reno 911) or cry (Getting On) and help you clean your house (Clean House). Tracy Morgan was involved in a horrific crash last year and has yet to recover. I hope he can live his life. If he can ever perform again, then I think he could be great in any role.
Who are your choices for The Wiz Livee casting? Your opinions are the fuel that drive this site. Sound off in the comments!