NBC has dug into its bag ‘o tricks and decided to give The Wiz a go. The 1978 Wizard of Oz remake that starred Michael Jackson and Diana Ross has gone on to become a Black entertainment staple and the network is pulling out all the stops for its December live showing.
Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige have joined the cast NBC’s upcoming The Wiz Live! special, slated for the coming holiday season. It airs on Thursday, December 3.
Queen Latifah plays The Wiz, the mysterious and 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. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who holds sway over the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys that do her bidding. 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.
Executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!), directed by Kenny Leon with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material, The Wiz Live! is the first NBC live musical to be done in collaboration with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical whose signature styles of visual acrobatics will be used in key scenes, including the tornado and the flying monkeys.