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Celebrity Takeover

Queen Latifah & Mary J. Blige Cast In NBC’s The Wiz Live

We are so glad they didn’t bring us “no bad news!” NBC, that is. Since they revealed the new live musical for this winter, everyone has been on pins and needles as NBC has slowly divulged the production team and the cast. Well, it seems we are one step closer in that process with two big names announced in major roles.

Executive producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron officially proclaimed that Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah & Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige will join the cast of The Wiz Live, set to air on NBC Dec. 3rd. Latifah will play The Wiz, a role originated on stage by the incomparable Andre De Shields (Ain’t Misbehavin, The Full Monty). Blige will portray the role of Evillene, the horrible wicked witch known for the upbeat “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” They join Stephanie Mills as Aunt Em, who was previously announced.


We’re still waiting on our main four; Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow, and The Tin Man. However, this feels real good in our spirit, so we’ll take it. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon will direct & Fatima Robinson will choregraph, as previously announced. The show will also head to Broadway in 2016 with Leon directing. The Wiz for NBC will partner with Cirque du Soleil to bring the live and Broadway productions to life. The original book of the show was written by William F. Brown. This time around, Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein will add new material to the book.

“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,” said NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. “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. 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.”

“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,’” said Zeiger. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”

“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. “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did Steel Magnolias and Raisin in the Sun with us,” added Meron.

Universal Television will produce. Casting for both the NBC telecast and Cirque du Soleil‘s Broadway production will be announced at a later date.

Tell us what you think about this casting in the comments below!

Written By

Drew Shade is a theatre artist and enthusiast who fosters artistic diversity and excellence for the love of Black theatre artists. He is the Founder/Creative Director of Broadway Black, Off-Book Podcast & The Antonyo Awards. “Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.” – August Wilson


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