Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Full Cast of THE WIZ LIVE!

THE WIZThe Wiz Live!, NBC’s holiday special airing Thursday, December 3rd, stars Queen Latifah as the title character, Mary J. Blige as Evillene, newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, NE-YO as the Tin Man, Elijah Kelleyas the Scarecrow, Amber Riley as Addaperle, Stephanie Mills as Auntie Em, Uzo Aduba as Glinda and Common as Bouncer. Featured in the ensemble are 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, Antonio Hudnell, Carlos Irizarry, Marcus Paul James, Frederic Jean, Capathia Jenkins, Mykal Kilgore, Tamika Lawrence, India R. McGee, 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, and NaTasha Williams.

Kenny Leon. Photo by Lia Chang

Kenny Leon. Photo by Lia Chang

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (The Sound of Music Live!Peter Pan Live!) serve as executive producers. Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material. Fatima Robinson serves as choreographer. The Wiz Live! is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.

The Wiz tells the classic story hundreds of millions of people have read in the L. Frank Baumbooks and then saw in the much-beloved 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, but retold in an African-American/multicultural context. Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and relocated to a fantasy world that is inhabited by munchkins, good and bad witches, and, of course, flying monkeys. She eventually takes a path down a yellow brick road to find a wizard who can help her go home and along the way meets a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, who all learn to help one another.

Actors (L-R) André De Shields, Tiger Haynes, Hinton Battle, Stephanie Mills & Ted Ross in a scene fr. the Broadway musical

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, marked 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

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

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.

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

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 Wiz articles:
Photos and Video: Behind the Scenes with THE WIZ’s André De Shields at The Wiz is 40 at #Summerstage30
Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Phylicia Rashad, Andre De Shields & More Original Cast Members from THE WIZ Reunite in Central Park!
André De Shields, Phylicia Rashad, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ebony Jo-Ann, Inaya Day, Reji Woods and More set for THE WIZ is 40: A Celebration in Dance and Music at SummerStage in Central Park on 8/12; Marcus Garvey Park on 8/13, 8/14 
THE WIZ: A Celebration in Dance and Music featuring André De Shields, Phylicia Rashad, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ebony Jo-Ann, Inaya Day and more at SummerStage in Central Park on 8/12; Marcus Garvey Park on 8/13, 8/14 
Kenny Leon Helmed ‘The Wiz’ Set as NBC’s Next Live Musical to air on Dec. 3; Broadway Revival Slated for 2016-17
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 
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 
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

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival on November 21st. She is profiled in FebOne1960.com BlogJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
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 lia@liachangphotography.com.

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