Since 2013, NBC has produced a live musical adaptation every year at the beginning of December as a holiday tradition. 2013 saw a production of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood and last year’s production was Peter Pan starring Allison Williams as Peter. This year NBC did a production of The Wiz with an all-star cast including Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, David Alan Grier, Uzo Aduba, Common, Ne-Yo, Amber Riley, Stephanie Mills and 18-year-old Shanice Williams as Dorothy.
Stephanie Mills played Dorothy in the Original Broadway production of The Wiz and brings Aunt Em to life in the made-for-tv live show. Shanice Williams was cast after a nationwide talent search, and can she ever sing! Speaking of singing, it worked in the show’s favor to cast current singers including Ne-Yo, Common and Mary J. Blige as the songs are one of the best parts of The Wiz and they delivered them with the heart and soul they were intended to have.
The show was co-produced by Cirque de Soleil’s theatrical division and the choreography during the tornado demonstrated this right off the bat. The crows and monkeys flying was also a nice touch. We also enjoyed the choreography during the Emerald City sequence and “Brand New Day.”
The singing throughout the show was amazing. Amber Riley and Shanice Williams singing “He’s the Wizard” was a great introduction to the world of Oz. “Ease on Down the Road,” “Be a Lion,” Ne-Yo singing “What Would I Do If I Could Feel?” and Mary J. Blige singing “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News” were some of our other favorite performances. “Brand New Day” was even more fierce during the show than it was at the Macy’s Day parade. Uzo Aduba singing the “Believe in Yourself (Reprise)” was worth waiting until the end of the show for and Shanice Williams singing “Home” brought us to tears.
Bravo on this one, NBC!