Thursday, July 30, 2015

NBC's The Wiz Live! — Who's Cast, Who Could Be, and Who Should Be

Earlier this week, NBC announced the addition of Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige to the cast of The Wiz Live!, which airs December 3rd.

Latifah will play the Wiz, described as "the mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax," and Blige (a nine-time Grammy Award-winner) will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who "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." They join original Broadway cast member Stephanie Mills, who was previously announced to play Aunt Em.

E! Online and a number of other entertainment news outlets are reporting that music superstar Beyonce has been offered the role of Glinda - a move that could result in massive ratings for NBC. According to Entertainment Weekly, however, Beyonce has declined multiple offers from NBC, though it's still possible that she could end up signing on. If not, the role could go to Uzo Aduba, star of Netflix's Orange is the New Black. But for now, "Beyonce is only a rumor," says producer Craig Zadan.

As for Dorothy, the creative team is adamant about casting a fresh face, despite Brandy Norwood's shameless campaigning for the role across Twitter, YouTube, and even the New York subways. "I feel like I'm the one to do it," she said in an interview with Playbill, "and I just want Kenny Leon and whoever else who is doing it to let me prove it to them. Give me the opportunity, and I will make them so proud and inspire the world with that role."

Personally, I share many people's concern that Brandy, 36, might be too old for the part (though, in her defense, Diana Ross was 34 when she played Dorothy in the 1978 film). Having said that, I do think that she should be given a chance. She's not quite as much of a "household name" as Queen Latifah or Mary J. Blige, but she would bring some more star power to the production and she's clearly got the talent and passion for the project.

So, who else could we see in NBC's Wiz? Audra McDonald is a good bet, as she appeared in The Sound of Music Live! for the network in 2013. I also wouldn't be surprised if actor/comedian Craig Robinson, best known for his role as Darryl in The Office, joins the cast, given his relationship with NBC with the upcoming sitcom Mr. Robinson. If you ask me, he'd make a pretty great Lion. Other names that have come up among fan discussions include Whoopi Goldberg, Broadway stars James Monroe Igleheart (Aladdin) and LaChanze (If/Then), Fantasia, and even Usher.

Expect to see the rest of the cast to fill up in the next month or two, but in the meantime, let the speculation and wishful thinking continue!

1 comment:

Eric said...

If Craig Robinson will be doing a show for NBC, that probably means that he won't do The Wiz Live! simply because he won't have time to do both. Remember, it takes several weeks to rehearse the live shows, weeks that he probably can't spare from making his show.