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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wiz Live!
The Wiz Live Poster NBC 2015.jpg
Promotional poster
Based onThe Wiz
by William F. Brown
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
Written byHarvey Fierstein
Directed byKenny Leon
Matthew Diamond
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Craig Zadan
Neil Meron
Running time111 minutes
Production company(s)Universal Television
Sony Pictures Television
Storyline Entertainment
DistributorUniversal Studios Home Entertainment
Original networkNBC
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseDecember 3, 2015 (2015-12-03)
Preceded byPeter Pan Live!
Followed byHairspray Live!
External links

The Wiz Live! is a television special that aired live on NBC on December 3, 2015.[1] Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, it is a performance of a new adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, a soul/R&B reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[2] The broadcast is performed live from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. This adaptation of the musical combines aspects of both the Broadway play and its 1978 film adaptation.[3]


Teenager Dorothy Gale lives with her Aunt Em and dog, Toto, on their farm in Kansas. One day, Dorothy tries to run away, but the three farmhands and Aunt Em stop her while she chases after Toto. Dorothy expresses her displeasure about her current life situations and wishes to go back to her hometown of Omaha. Aunt Em tells Dorothy how much she loves her dearly and hopes they will always be as close as they were when Dorothy was younger ("The Feeling We Once Had").

When an approaching storm turns out to be a tornado, Aunt Em takes shelter. As the tornado hits the farm, Dorothy and her house are lifted into the air and carried away for miles, with the wind represented by dancers ("The Tornado"). The house finally comes to rest with a bump in the middle of the city. There Dorothy is met by the Munchkins and Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, who tells her that she is in the Land of Oz. Furthermore, her house has fallen on Evamean, the Wicked Witch of the East, and killed her, freeing the Munchkins from her evil powers. Dorothy, distressed and confused, wants only to return home. With her magic unable to take Dorothy beyond the country boundaries, Addaperle decides Dorothy's best chance for assistance is to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City in the center of Oz, to see the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, or "The Wiz" for short ("He's the Wizard"). She gives Dorothy the Witch of the East's silver slippers and tells her not to take them off before she reaches home, for they hold a mysterious, but very powerful charm that will keep her safe.

Dorothy sets off down the Yellow Brick Road, full of doubt and fear at what lies ahead ("Soon As I Get Home"). Stopping to rest by a cornfield, she is startled when a scarecrow hanging on a pole is being bothered by a bunch of crows who are trying to bring his mood down ("You Can't Win"). Dorothy shoos the crows away and helps the Scarecrow down. He tells her of his longing for brains so that he can be like other people, and she invites him to accompany her to see if the Wizard can help him. ("Ease On Down the Road #1").

The Yellow Brick Road leads them into a great forest where they discover a man made of tin, rusted solid. They oil his joints ("Slide Some Oil To Me") and he tells them how, to prevent him from marrying Bertha, a servant girl, the Wicked Witch of the East put a spell on him that transformed his entire body into tin. The one thing missing from inside of him was a heart, and the Tin Man has longed for one ever since. Dorothy and the Scarecrow invite him on their journey to see the Wizard with the hope that he may give him one ("Ease On Down the Road #2").

The trio continues following the Yellow Brick Road deeper into the forest, where they are attacked by a large lion ("I'm a Mean Ole Lion"). However, he is quickly revealed to be a coward hiding behind bravado as Dorothy stands up for her friends. When he learns where they are going, he apologizes and asks if he may accompany them to ask the Wizard for some courage. They agree and the trio becomes a quartet ("Ease On Down the Road #3"), but face a new danger when they are attacked by half-tiger, half-bear creatures called Kalidahs ("Kalidah Battle"). After a great fight and harrowing escape, they stop by the road to rest. The Lion is embarrassed by his cowardice in the battle but is comforted by Dorothy's kind words ("Be a Lion").

Seeing a green glow in the distance, they continue their journey to the Emerald City, and wander into a field of poppies who blow opium dust on them. Not being made of flesh, the Scarecrow and Tin Man are unaffected, but Dorothy and the Lion begin to become disoriented and drowsy. Dorothy recalls that the Munchkins warned her of the dangerous poppies, and runs from the field as fast as she can with the Scarecrow and Tin Man behind her. The Lion is overcome by the dust and begins to hallucinate ("Lion's Dream"). However, he overcomes their powerful scent and makes safely across the field with his friends.

Marching up to the gates of the Emerald City, they are met by the Gatekeeper. They enter the city and look about in awe at the richly dressed people that inhabit it ("Emerald City Ballet"). The haughty and condescending people laugh and ridicule this odd party for wanting to see the Wizard until they see that Dorothy is wearing the Witch of the East's silver slippers. They are promptly shown right into his palace.

Once in the throne room, they are assaulted by a great show of lights, smoke, and the Wizard appears before them ("So You Wanted To See the Wizard"). They each plead their case to him, the Tin Man doing so in song ("What Would I Do If I Could Feel?"). He agrees on one condition: they must kill Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West. With their goals seeming further out of reach than ever before, Dorothy's companions sink to the floor in tears. However, Dorothy encourages them not to give up. ("We Got It").

Evillene rules over the land of the west, enslaving its people, the Winkies. She is evil, power-hungry, and ruthlessly determined to get her hands on the silver slippers, so that she may increase her power and rule over all of Oz ("Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News"). Receiving word of Dorothy and her friends approaching, she sends her Winged Monkeys to bring them to her ("Funky Monkeys"). Catching up to the group in the forest surrounding Evillene's castle, the monkeys take them all to the castle. While searching for a way to get the slippers from Dorothy, Evillene has the Scarecrow and Tin Man chained up and takes delight in torturing the Lion before Dorothy, threatening to have him skinned and roasted unless she hands over the silver slippers. Angered by this, she picks up a bucket of water and throws it over Evillene, who melts. Her spell on the Winkies is lifted, and they show their thanks by restoring the Scarecrow and Tin Man to top condition, and reuniting the group ("Everybody Rejoice"/"Brand New Day").

Returning to the Emerald City, they see the Wizard (now a talking head). He reneges on his promise, and the Lion pulls a plug. Behind the large head stands a bewildered woman who claims to be the real Wizard. She tells them that she is really a magician's assistant and balloonist from Omaha who traveled to Oz by accident when his hot air balloon drifted off course. The people of Oz had never seen such a sight and proclaimed her Wizard. Not wanting to disappoint them, she assumed the role and had a great city built.

Furious, the group confronts the Wizard on her deceptions, but she points out that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion already have the things they seek as shown in their behavior on the journeys they have made. She proposes that Dorothy can return to Omaha the way she came, and offers to pilot Dorothy in her air balloon. She addresses the citizens of the Emerald City in person for the first time in many years, telling them of her imminent journey, and leaving the Scarecrow in charge ("Y'all Got It!"). Just as her speech reaches its climax, Dorothy realizes that she does not belong in Omaha and the balloon comes free from its moorings and rises quickly into the air.

Just as the group despairs of finding Dorothy a way back home, Addaperle reappears, suggesting that Dorothy asks Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, for assistance. Suddenly, Glinda, a beautiful and gracious sorceress, shows up. She tells Dorothy that the silver slippers have always had the power to take her home, but like her friends, she needed to believe in their magic and in herself before it was possible ("If You Believe"). Dorothy bids a tearful goodbye to her friends and then she thinks about what she has gained, lost, and learned throughout her journey through Oz ("Home"). Clicking her heels together three times, she finds herself transported back to Kansas in an instant. As an overjoyed Aunt Em and Toto appear, and Dorothy runs to hug them, she knows that she is back home at last ("Finale").

Cast and characters



  • Chris Borrero
  • James Brown III
  • Olutayo Bosede
  • Elon Van Buckley
  • Ta'rea Campbell
  • Jessica Castro
  • Kacie Garland
  • Asmeret Ghebremichael
  • Frankie Gordils
  • Khadija Griffith
  • Tre Holloway
  • Carlos Irizarry
  • Marcus Paul James
  • Frederic Jean
  • Capathia Jenkins
  • Mykal Kilgore
  • Tamika Lawrence
  • India R. McGee
  • Paul McGinnis
  • Maurice Murphy
  • Antonio Moore
  • Danielle Polanco
  • Malaiyka Reid
  • Eric Sanchez
  • Sherisse Springer
  • Chris Silcox
  • Ahmahd Thomas
  • Raphael Thomas
  • Alex Wade
  • Donald Webber
  • DaShaun Wesley
  • Xavier Wilcher
  • NaTasha Williams

Pit voices were provided by Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Source: Broadway World[5]

Musical numbers

The list of musical numbers is taken from the actual broadcast and are in order as they appear in the broadcast and include the characters' names who perform the song.

All numbers composed by Charlie Smalls save for the following: "Tornado" is composed by Timothy Graphenreed and Harold Wheeler. "Emerald City Ballet (Psst)" is composed by Graphenreed and George Faison. "We Got It" is written by Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Harvey Mason Jr, and Stephen Oremus.[6] "Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day" is written by Luther Vandross.



The production, a co-production between Universal Television and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical – who provided special acrobatic performers for the "Tornado", "You Can't Win", and "Funky Monkeys" sequences[7][8] – was a follow-up to NBC's live musical events, The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!. Like the previous specials, The Wiz Live! was televised from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York.[9] The role of Dorothy was cast via an open audition; on August 5, 2015, it was announced on Today that Shanice Williams of New Jersey would fill the role in The Wiz Live!. Williams had co-starred in local productions of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and West Side Story among others, and in 2014, was nominated for a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award for best leading actress.[10]

The special was directed by Kenny Leon and adapted for television by Harvey Fierstein from the original musical's book by William F. Brown. Fatima Robinson was the program's choreographer, with Harvey Mason, Jr. and Stephen Oremus serving as the musical directors.[11] Songs from the original Broadway production were featured, with two exceptions: "You Can't Win", a song cut from the musical and first used in its 1978 feature film adaptation as sung by Michael Jackson, was used in place of the Scarecrow's key number "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday", and "We Got It",[6] a new song composed by Harvey Mason Jr., Stephen Oremus with stars Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelley, was performed as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion began their journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch of the West.[2]

The Wiz Live! was the first live TV program in US history to contain audio description for blind or visually impaired viewers.[12]


The cost of a 30-second commercial during The Wiz ranged between $330,000 to $350,000, marking a drop from the $345,000 to $400,000 cost of ad time during Peter Pan Live!. The decrease in ad cost was attributed to the modest viewership of Peter Pan in comparison to The Sound of Music Live!, which an analyst felt was a result of the reduced novelty of the production in comparison to The Sound of Music. Reddi-wip served as a main sponsor of the presentation; Walmart, which served as a major sponsor of NBC's previous live musicals, declined to participate. NBC produced themed commercials to air throughout the special as part of the brand's "Share the Joy" campaign; one, which was timed to air after the corresponding scene in the musical, featured "A Brand New Day" being performed by students of the Excel Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland—a school which ConAgra Foods had donated money to in support of musical arts.[13][14][15][16][17]


Critical reception

The Wiz Live! received positive reviews from critics, who praised the acting and singing abilities of the cast and for being an improvement over the two previous live NBC musicals. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 91% rating, based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's consensus states: "The Wiz Live! is several notches above NBC's other musical broadcasts thanks to bold performances and large-scale production pieces."[18] Metacritic reports a weighted average of 73 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[19]


The Wiz Live! was seen by 11.5 million viewers, with a 3.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Although higher than Peter Pan Live!, it trailed a Thursday Night Football game on CBS between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, which was seen by around 17 million.[20][21] Average household viewership was notably higher in markets with a large African-American population, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Norfolk, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.[21] Nielsen also reported that the special produced the most social network interactions of any live television event in the past four years; there were three times as many Twitter postings related to The Wiz Live! than there were related to Peter Pan Live!.[21] NBC rebroadcast the special on December 19, 2015.[22] The rebroadcast was seen by 1.6 million viewers.[23]


Home media release

NBC released a DVD of the special on December 22, 2015,[28] through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes special, The Making of The Wiz Live![29] As part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Shows Must Go On, the full show was made available on YouTube for a limited time, to support the African-American community and other communities of color during the George Floyd protests.[30][31]

See also


  1. ^ "The Wiz Live!". NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Khan, Jessica (22 October 2015). "SCOOP: NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Will Feature New Song by NE-YO, Plus Movie Tune for 'Scarecrow'". Broadway World. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. ^ Ne-Yo (actor) (November 25, 2015). "The Wiz LIVE!" Cast! (live television interview). Retrieved December 29, 2015. This is a kind of blend of the Broadway musical and the movie, so it's like both of them combined.
  4. ^ a b c d Dean, Van (2015). The Wiz Live!: Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event (booklet). Queen Latifah. New York,New York: Sony Music Entertainment. p. 3. 88875 18787 2.
  5. ^ "Breaking News: Y'all Got It! Capathia Jenkins, Marcus Paul James and More Broadway Vets Join THE WIZ LIVE! - Full Cast Announced!". Broadway World. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b Rorke, Robert (22 November 2015). "Ne-Yo: My 'Wiz Live!' Tin Man transformation is 'not comfortable at all'". New York Post. New York Post. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (11 May 2015). "Stephanie Mills Joins 'The Wiz Live!' On NBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  8. ^ Byrd, Craig (15 July 2015). "Curtain Call: For The Record Finds New Life With a Cirque Du Soleil/Baz Luhrmann Mash-Up". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  9. ^ Crook, John (26 November 2015). "'The Wiz Live!': NBC's latest live musical broadcast from Long Island". Newsday. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  10. ^ "NBC's 'The Wiz' Finds Its Dorothy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  11. ^ Petski, Denise (1 June 2015). "Fatima Robinson, Harvey Mason Jr & Stephen Oremus Board 'The Wiz Live!'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  12. ^ "American Foundation for the Blind Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Helen Keller Achievement Awards and Announces 2016 Honorees". American Foundation for the Blind. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Reddi-Wip Adds Sweet Sounds as 'Wiz' Sponsor". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Wal-Mart's Peter Pan 'Warr' Room". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Walmart Takes Big Role in 'Peter Pan Live!'". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Madison Avenue Pushes Back On Price For TV's Live 'Wiz,' 'Grease'". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  17. ^ "NBC Hopes The Wiz Live Will Be More Like Sound of Music and Less Like Peter Pan". Adweek. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  18. ^ "The Wiz Live! (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Wiz Live! Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  20. ^ "Thursday final ratings: 'The Wiz Live' holds, 'CMA Country Christmas' adjusts down plus final NFL numbers". TVbythenumbers. Tribune Media. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  21. ^ a b c "'The Wiz Live' Ratings Strong: NBC Musical Draws 11.5 Million Viewers". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  22. ^ "Ratings Hit The Wiz Live! Sets Rebroadcast Date". Playbill. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  23. ^ "TV Ratings Saturday: Democratic debate down but leads a soft night". Zap 2 It. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  24. ^ Caryn Robbins (14 July 2016). "Audra McDonald, Bryan Cranston, GREASE LIVE Among Theater Stars Nominated for 68th Annual EMMY AWARDS". Broadway World.
  25. ^ "Creed, Empire, Black-ish top NAACP Image Awards winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Critics' Choice Award Nominations Led by 'Mad Max,' 'Fargo'". Variety. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  27. ^ "16th Annual Black Reel Award Nominations"
  28. ^ Gina Carbone (December 22, 2015). "What's New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: December 21–27". Movie Fone. Whale Rock Industries. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  29. ^ BWW News Desk (December 22, 2015). "NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Coming to DVD Later This Month!". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  30. ^ "The WIZ Live! - Friday 12th June (Teaser) | The Shows Must Go On". 5 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  31. ^ "The WIZ Live! - FULL STAGE SHOW | The Shows Must Go On - Stay Home #WithMe". 12 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.

External links

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