Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More

Actors (L-R) André De Shields, Tiger Haynes, Hinton Battle, Stephanie Mills & Ted Ross in a scene fr. the Broadway musical "The Wiz". (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Actors (L-R) André De Shields, Tiger Haynes, Hinton Battle, Stephanie Mills & Ted Ross in a scene fr. the Broadway musical “The Wiz”. (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

January 5, 2015, marks the 40th anniversary of the Broadway production of The Wiz. One of the first large-scale, big-budget Broadway musicals to star an all-black cast, The Wiz features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the context of African-American culture.

Actors (Front L-R) Clarice Taylor, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ted Ross & Tiger Haynes w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical "The Wiz".(c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Actors (Front L-R) Clarice Taylor, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ted Ross & Tiger Haynes w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical “The Wiz”.(c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

The Wiz opened on October 21, 1974 at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, and on January 5, 1975, moved to the Majestic Theatre on Broadway with Geoffrey Holder at the helm.


The cast starred Stephanie Mills as Dorothy, Hinton Battle as the Scarecrow, Tiger Haynes as the Tin Man, Ted Ross as the Lion, Dee Dee Bridgewater as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, André De Shields as the Wizard, Mabel King as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, Clarice Taylor as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, Tasha Thomas as Aunt Em, Ralph Wilcox as Uncle Henry and Phylicia Rashād as a Munchkin.

Actress Mabel King (C) w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical "The Wiz". (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Actress Mabel King (C) w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical “The Wiz”. (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Click here for more photos of The Wiz in the THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo courtesy of BC/EFA

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo courtesy of BC/EFA

The 1975 Broadway production garnered seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score for Charlie Smalls, Best Featured Actor in a Musical – Ted Ross, Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Dee Dee Bridgewater, Best Costume Design For Geoffrey Holder, Best Choreography for George Faison, Best Direction of a Musical for Geoffrey Holder; and five Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Music and Lyrics for Charlie Smalls, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical – Ted Ross, Outstanding Choreography for George Faison, Outstanding Costume Design for Geoffrey Holder.
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days
The Broadway production moved to The Broadway Theatre on May 25, 1977, and closed on January 28, 1979, after four years and 1,672 performances.

Actor André De Shields (C) w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical "The Wiz". (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

Actor André De Shields (C) w. cast in a scene fr. the Broadway musical “The Wiz”. (c.1974) Photo by Martha Swope courtesy of THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY DIGITAL COLLECTIONS

The Tinman’s hat from the Broadway musical The Wiz will go on view in 2016 in the exhibition, “Taking the Stage,” one of the inaugural shows planned for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Click here to read more about The Wiz and the exhibition.

Tony Award winners Dee Dee Bridgewater and George Faison celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Broadway debut of THE WIZ on January 5, 2015 at the Faison Firehouse Theater in New York.  Photo by Brian Whitted

Tony Award winners Dee Dee Bridgewater and George Faison celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Broadway debut of THE WIZ on January 5, 2015 at the Faison Firehouse Theater in New York. Photo by Brian Whitted

Photos: André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White in 40th Anniversary of The WIZ Tribute at BC/EFA’s GYPSY OF THE YEAR; Competition Breaks Records With Over $5 Million as Hugh Jackman’s THE RIVER Brings in Top Donation

The 26th annual edition of BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year held on December 8th and 9th, 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York, raised a record-breaking $5,229,611 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS thanks to six weeks of fundraising by 64 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies. A highlight of the show featured a spirited opening number celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year  featured Charl Brown, Lillias White, André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured Charl Brown, Lillias White, André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Below are photos of the performances featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Ashley Stroud, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and more.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Triumphantly returning to the yellow brick road, André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page were met with rapturous applause from the energized audience.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured Dee Dee Bridgewater at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured Dee Dee Bridgewater at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured Ashley Stroud, Alton Fitzgerald White, Ken Page, Christina Sajous, Charl Brown and Carly Hughes at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured Ashley Stroud, Alton Fitzgerald White, Ken Page, Christina Sajous, Charl Brown and Carly Hughes at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang


They were joined for the special performance by Charl Brown (Motown: The Musical), Carly Hughes (Pippin), Christina Sajous (Holler If Ya Hear Me), Ashley Stroud, Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King) and Lillias White (Fela). The opening number was directed by T. Oliver Reid and choreographed by Brian Harlan Brooks, assisted by Torya Beard, with music direction and arrangements by Ben Cohn.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard (in white) and Charl Brown (in plaid) and company at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured André De Shields as the Wizard (in white) and Charl Brown (in plaid) and company at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year featured Alton Fitzgerald White at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year featured Alton Fitzgerald White at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

In a fitting tribute to the groundbreaking show, White and her cast mates returned to close Gypsy of the Year with a powerhouse rendition of “Home,” the finale from The Wiz.

 Lillias White sings “Home,” and is joined by  André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page and The Wiz company at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lillias White sings “Home,” and is joined by André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page and The Wiz company at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

 Lillias White sings “Home,” and is joined by  André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page and The Wiz company at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Lillias White sings “Home,” and is joined by André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ken Page and The Wiz company at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

The Wiz performers also included Alysha Deslorieux, Dionne Figgins, Christopher Freeman, Desmond Richardson, Rashidra Scott, Jamal Story, Rema Webb, Lawrence Alexander, LaMar Baylor, Olivia Bowman-Jackson, Solomon Dumas, Angelica Edwards, Dana Marie Ingraham, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Christopher Figaro Jackson, Donald Jones Jr., Sharron Lynn, Sumayah McRae, Jennifer Harrison Newman, Malaiyka Reid, Devin L. Roberts, Donna Michelle Vaughn, Dion Wilson, Camille Workman, Hollie E. Wright.

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

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A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA's Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

A Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz at the BC/EFA’s Gypsy of the Year at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on December 9, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Click here to watch The Wiz Tribute.

smithsonianmag.com: The Tinman’s Hat From “The Wiz” Offers Just a Hint of the Musical’s Beating Heart

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Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Preview of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Spring Exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, Announced at the Palace Museum in China
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Jennifer Lim, Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jo Mei, James Saito and Sue Jin Song Set for MTC Run of World Premiere of The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, February 3 – March 29
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Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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