Tomorrow’s a big day for those of us who love musicals! It marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest musical’s this nation has seen, ‘The Wiz’.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘The Wiz’ was essentially ‘The Wizard of Oz’, but with more flavor. It was an all-minority cast (actually it’s was majority Black cast) who retold the story of the original story. You might recognize the names from the movie because they were household names like Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King and Michael Jackson! In fact, Mabel King and Ted Ross reprised their roles from the Broadway show that debuted 4 years prior. I loved the original stage play, the songs and dances are classics that are stuck in my head to this day. In fact, it’s hard for me to start skipping without singing “Ease on Down”.
Three years ago NBC brought the stage play back to life for a single night and had some heavy hitters portraying those classic roles. Shanice Williams did a great job as Dorothy, Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelly crushed it as the Tin Man and Scarecrow, and David Alan Grier pleasantly surprised me with his take on the Cowardly Lion. Queen Latifah and Uzo Aduba weren’t on stage often but when they were they killed it! Common was another one who had a small role, but his quips were funny and he looked great! Stephanie Mills came full circle with her performance of Aunt Em, it was amazing to see her go from playing Dorothy in the 70’s version of the stage play, to seeing her play the aunt in this version. Amber’s vocals were perfection and Mary J. Blige’s performance of “No Bad News” was everything I thought it would be.
They stayed true to the plot, but kept things fresh and current with the music and dance numbers. Fatima Robinson was the principle choreographer and she did not disappoint. The costumes were GORGEOUS! They made me want to take a trip to Emerald City for a night. I also loved the use of the LCD screens to help out the set.
I tried to find a copy of the original soundtrack or even the original Broadway cast on Spotify, but they weren’t available. I was however able to find the soundtrack from the NBC show so I’ll be sharing that below. Take a listen and celebrate the monumental milestone this cultural classic has hit!