NBC finally gets a hit musical with 'The Wiz Live!'
Super fast pacing and excessive commercial breaks couldn't sap the fun out NBC's The Wiz Live! Thursday night.
The network's third live musical event in three years starred Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Common, Stephanie Mills, Amber Riley and newcomer, Shanice Williams as Dorothy. It's Williams' innocent take on the classic character from Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz that buoyed a production fraught with technical issues and weird flying choreography courtesy of Cirque du Soleil. Still, director and St. Petersburg native Kenny Leon hit all the right comic notes with his cast of stars, even if the emotional scenes lacked punch.
Ultimately, The Wiz is about the music, though, and the singing was aces. TV Line reports The Wiz Live! blew away last year's Peter Pan Live! in the ratings (but didn't quite surpass the original NBC musical venture, The Sound of Music Live!).
Twitter was alive with praise from all corners last night, many people saying the event opened new doors for African-American performers (and a handul of people seemingly not understanding that the The Wiz is a black adaptation of the Wizard of Oz). People praised the production values and talent, as well as its updated book, vernacular, gender fluidity, references to the groundbreaking pop culture styles of people like Grace Jones and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and embrace of natural hair. Here's some of the chatter from Twitter last night:
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) December 4, 2015
Wait Toto didn't make the trip?? #TheWiz
— Rashida Jones (@iamrashidajones) December 4, 2015
Did ya'll notice the first line when the good witch made her entrance? "She is beautiful". A dark skinned, black woman. Powerful. #TheWiz
— alexandria (@alexandria_jaee) December 4, 2015
I think we all really needed #TheWiz after this past week. A little joy.
— Victoria Dahl (@VictoriaDahl) December 4, 2015
OMG dumb white people who don't know The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz are 2 completely different things based on the same book.
— Melissa Fumero (@melissafumero) December 4, 2015