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Amber Riley & Uzo Aduba Join The Cast of NBC’s The Wiz Live

The hits just keep on coming! Broadway Black has learned that Amber Riley will be playing Addaperle in NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” that will air on December 3. Addaperle is the Good Witch of the North, sister to Glinda of the South. We talked here about the rumors that Uzo Aduba might be playing Glinda. Well, now she is! While Glinda is graceful and poised, Addaperle is hysterically clumsy, carrying around her magic “wanga,” which doesn’t always work so well. Clarice Taylor played Addaperle in the 1974 original Broadway cast and Thelma Carpenter had fun with the role in the 1978 movie adaptation. Glinda the Good was originally played by Dee Dee Bridgewater on Broadway, which won her a Tony Award, and by Lena Horne in the movie.

Riley & Aduba will join newbie Shanice Willams, who will play Dorothy, Tony nominee David Alan Grier who will take on the role of “The Cowardly Lion”, as well as join the Academy Award nomineeQueen Latifah & Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige in the cast of The Wiz Live. Latifah will play “The Wiz” & Blige will portray the role of “Evillene”, the horrible wicked witch known for the upbeat “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” In addition to Stephanie Mills as “Aunt Em”, who was also previously announced.

The original 1975 production of The Wiz featured music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and a book by William F. Brown and is a re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The Broadway production won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. In 1978, Motown Productions and Universal Pictures produced a film adaptation starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor as “The Wiz”.

This upcoming retelling of “The Wiz” will be directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (Raisin in the Sun) and will feature stunning acrobatics by Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, choreography by Fatima Robinson, and updated material by Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots, La Cage aux Folles, Newsies).

We know from her time on Fox’s “Glee!” that Amber Riley has serious acting and singing skills. We can’t wait to hear her belt out “He’s The Wiz!,” Addaperle’s signature tune. Riley will also rock out on the NBC production stage. In 2013, she became the first Black woman to win Dancing With the Stars.

Uzo Aduba is mostly known from her work on Orange Is The New Black as “Crazy Eyes” but is no stranger to the theatre. Aduba is an amazing vocalist and would be right at home on a Broadway-style sound stage. Before being cast on OITNB, she was on Broadway, and starred in the revival of Godspell. She’s also classically trained if you didn’t know.

We think Amber Riley is a great, youthful choice to play Addaperle. And Uzo Aduba is the best choice for Glinda The Good. Talk back to us in the comments and let us know what you think!


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