Is it possible that NBC’s upcoming live musical re-staging of The Wiz is getting one of the biggest superstars in pop music to join the cast? According to several sources, the network is courting none other than Queen B herself, Beyoncé, to join their upcoming live version of the classic ’70s musical, which is a contemporary African-American version of The Wizard of Oz. If she takes the job, she’d be joining the recently announced Queen Latifah in the title role, and Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch of the West. Adding another dash of credibility to the whole thing, Stephanie Mills, who originally played Dorothy back in 1975, will be playing Auntie Em.
So just who exactly would Bey be playing if NBC has their way? No, not Dorothy (and before you say that Beyoncé is too old to play Dorothy, I will remind you that Diana Ross played Dorothy at age 33 in the original movie version of The Wiz, and Beyoncé is currently 33 herself). Instead, it looks like they are hoping that she takes the part of Glinda the Good Witch. The part was originally played on Broadway by Dee Dee Bridgewater and later in the movie version by the legendary Lena Horne. If Beyoncé passes on playing Glinda, NBC already has a backup plan apparently, in the form of Uzo Aduba, who plays “Crazy Eyes” on Orange is the New Black. Aduba definitely has the pipes for the job, and she starred in a Broadway production of Godspell back in 2011.
NBC seems determined, come hell or high water, to make these live musical broadcasts a new holiday tradition, despite the fact that the last one they did, Peter Pan: Live!, was a critical and ratings disappointment. Even if The Wiz Live! (yes, the exclamation point is officially part of the title) crashes and burns on TV, there is already yet another backup plan. After the TV special airs in December, this version of The Wiz, which is being co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s theatrical division, will appear on Broadway during the 2016-2017 season. So even if it flops and everyone mocks it on Twitter, you can just think of the TV version as a trial run for the real thing.
The Wiz Live! is currently set to air on Thursday, December 3, 2015.
HT: Vanity Fair