When NBC first announced a live action version of The Wiz, we were filled to the brim with excitement. After all, the adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a cult classic, which first debuted in 1978 starring late pop icon Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Lena Horne and won seven Tonys to boot.
In the months following NBC’s announcement, the network has announced some pretty genius casting moves, including the original Broadway Dorothy and ’80s songbird Stephanie Mills coming full circle as Auntie Em. In late July, “The Wiz Live!” team announced that Queen Latifah is set to take on the iconic role of the Wiz, aka the mysterious and most powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax. She rose to her lofty position after being transported by accident to Oz in a hot air balloon during a snowstorm.
Meanwhile, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige will take on the role of Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West and ruler of the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys. She captures Dorothy and her friends to avenge the unintentional murder of her evil sister, Evvamean, and to get back the powerful silver slippers given to Dorothy by the Good Witch of the North.
And just when we thought the cast of the reboot couldn’t get any better, the rumor mill buzzed that a certain queen bee, Beyoncé, was being eyed for a major role, Glinda the Good Witch. Also being considered for the role of Glinda was “Orange Is the New Black” star Uzo Aduba.
Now, it appears that NBC has rounded out their cast, securing not one, but two award winning actors, a small screen favorite and a promising newcomer. Taking on the role of The Cowardly Lion is three-time Tony nominee David Alan Grier. To add, Emmy-winning “OITNB” star and operatic diva Uzo Aduba nabbed the role of Glinda, the Good Witch. The best part of “Glee,” Amber Riley has signed on as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. And newcomer Shanice Williams landed her first television role this week as Dorothy.
Although the project still has a few roles (Scarecrow, Tin Man) to fill, it already has a great cast and we couldn’t be more excited. “The Wiz LIVE!” airs Thursday, December 3 at 8/9c on NBC with talks of the reboot transferring to Broadway next year… Will you be watching?