The live TV event follows 2013’s ‘The Sound of Music Live’ starring Carrie Underwood and last year’s ‘Peter Pan Live!’
After taking us to Salzburg in 2013, then flying us off to Neverland last year, NBC will next be taking us on a trip down the yellow brick road for a live television production of musical ‘The Wiz’. Working with NBC to bring the musical to life on the small screen with be Cirque Du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division, which will produce alongside the network.
Diana Ross starred in the film version of The Wiz in 1978
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced NBC’s previous two musical ventures, The Sound of Music and Peter Pan, will be returning as executive producers. While famed Broadway director Kenny Leon will be directing the project.
The television production is set to air on December 3rd, after which the musical will head to Broadway for a revival in the 2016-17 season, which will also be presented by Cirque du Soleil and directed by Leon. Theatre veteran Harvey Fierstein has also been brought in to contribute new material to William F. Brown's original Broadway script.
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“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to not only produce this as our next live musical for NBC, but to then see it move to Broadway for a new generation to experience,” said Zadan in a statement. “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did ‘Steel Magnolias’ and ‘Raisin in the Sun’ with us,” his partner Neil Meron added.
“We love this yearly tradition, and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt also added. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events, and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division.”
Michael Jackson also starred in The Wiz on the big screen.
“Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love,” Greenblatt continued.
Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s 'The Wonderful Wizard of O'z, ‘The Wiz’ opened on Broadway in 1975 and went on to win seven Tony Awards, including best musical. In 1978 it was made into a major motion picture starring Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow along with Lena Horne and Richard Pryor.
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Casting for both NBC’s television production and the upcoming Broadway revival is yet to be announced, but already fans are debating which of today’s stars could fill the shoes of Ross and Jackson. Pharrell as the Scarecrow maybe, or what about Zendaya Coleman as Dorothy? Maybe there’s even a part in there for Usher or Beyonce!?
So what do you think, who would you like to see in NBC’s production of ‘The Wiz’ later this year?