The Wiz live premiered on NBC last night to rave reviews, and I am here to give you my two cents. When I first heard about this project I was skeptical at first. The Wiz is a classic, and I normally not HERE for remakes of classics(movies, music, or TV shows etc.). But not one to rush to judgement, I decided to wait and see what they were cooking up. When the cast was announced:
Shanice Williams as Dorothy Gale
Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow
Ne-Yo as the Tin Man
David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion
Queen Latifah as the Wiz
Mary J. Blige as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of The West
Uzo Aduba as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South
Amber Riley as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North
Stephanie Mills as Aunt Em
Common as the Bouncer, the gatekeeper of the entrance to Emerald City
I was a bit more comfortable, the only casting that I questioned was David Alan Grier, but little did I know Grier is a Broadway vet. That’s right, he was in the original production of Dreamgirls, which I didn’t know until Lorretta Devine mentioned this on The Real.
The cast was selected and announced, so the only thing for us to do was to wait for the actual production. I must admit my anticipation grew when I started seeing the commercials and also when I saw Shanice Williams perfrom “Home”,with the legendary Stephanie Mills(she was the original Dorothy in the Broadway version).
So after punched it up to Moe’s Southwest Grill to get my “Homewrecker”( yes you can judge me, care nuthin bout it!) I made it back to the house just in time to get in place to watch the magic unfold. I am a bit bothered by the fact that NBC didn’t spring for no commercial interruptions, but I made do!
The cast had big shoes to fill namely newcomer Shanice Williams. Williams did an awesome job embodying and updating the Dorothy character. Her voice held out through the whole show and her acting was on point as well. Elijah Kelly(Scarecrow) had very big shoes to fill as his part was played by the late great Michael Jackson in the movie version. MJ performed what has to be my favorite song, You Can’t Win, in the movie version. I was hoping Elijah didn’t f*ck it up. I was pleasantly surprised, he pulled off a good performance of the song and choreography. Of course no one will touch MJ’s performance. Ne-Yo(Tinman) took me back to first album Ne-Yo with his performance, but he did sound like his character in the Tuskegee Airman, but hey we’ll take it. He is another that is at his best when he is singing and not registering his opinion. David Alan Grier(Cowardly Lion) was just ok for me, but he did better than I expected. It’s hard for me to see him outside of being a comedian. Now Dana Owens aka Queen Latifah(The Wiz) I wasn’t too concerned about as she has been in several movies and also the movie version of Chicago. The Queen showed up and showed out and her contour killed all these bitches. Lil’ Kim needs to call whomever did Queen’s makeup IMMEDIATELY!
If you read this blog then you already know that I go up for Mary Jane Blige(Evillene), and when I heard she was cast as The Wicked Witch of the West, I was ecstatic. That little ghetto girl from Yonkers is so versatile! I will always STAN for MJB, she came out and delivered an amazing performance of “Don’t Bring Me No Bad News” I was satisfied. Uzo Aduba(Glinda)came out and gave a surprising performance, I say this because I was unaware that she is a trained opera singer, and also I have only seen her play Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black. Amber Rilery(Addaperle) also did an amazing job, I wasn’t worried about her anyway as she is a natural. Common(The Gate Keeper/Bouncer) did a good job even with such a small part.
I am very happy they included Stephanie Mill(Aunt Em) in this production, it was somewhat of a full circle moment. Stephanie Mills played Dorothy when The Wiz went to Broadway in 1975, and was allegedly suppose to reprise her role in the 1978 movie version, that is until it was rumored that Diana Ross used her influence over Berry Gordy to get the role. I can not confirm the validity of this claim, but Ross ended up playing Dorothy in the film version, so you be the judge.
I take my hat off the Fatima Robinson for the awesome choreography. She found a way to update the production without totally changing it. She get’s 10’s for having the dancer do “The Dab” My favorite scene from the movie version was the Poppies, but my favorite scene from this production would have to be the Emerald City scene. I am not sure who worked on the set design and costumes but they were excellent. So much attention was paid to detail. My favorite costumes were The Wiz’s and Evillene’s.
The producers did outstanding job updating a classic for a new generation, without losing the the past generation in the process. I thoroughly enjoyed the production from top to bottom. I will be purchasing the DVD and also the soundtrack.
Whut say you?