The Wiz Live!

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The Wiz Live!
File:The Wiz Live Poster NBC 2015.jpg
Promotional poster
Based on The Wiz
Written by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Kenny Leon
Matthew Diamond
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Craig Zadan
Neil Meron
Production company(s) Universal Television
Sony Pictures Television
Cirque du Soleil
Original network NBC
Original release December 3, 2015 (2015-12-03)
External links

The Wiz Live! is a television special that aired live on NBC on December 3, 2015.[1] Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, it is a performance of a new adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, a soul/R&B reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[2] The broadcast is performed live from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. This adaptation of the musical combines aspects of both the Broadway play and its 1978 film adaptation.[3]


Main cast

Ensemble cast

  • 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
  • Paul McGinnis
  • 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
  • NaTasha Williams

Pit voices were provided by Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Source: Broadway World[5]


The production, a co-production between Universal Television and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical – who provided special acrobatic performers for the "Tornado", "You Can't Win", and "Funky Monkeys" sequences[6][7] – was a follow-up to NBC's live musical events, The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!. Like the previous specials, The Wiz Live! was televised from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York.[8] The role of Dorothy was cast via an open audition; on August 5, 2015, it was announced on Today that Shanice Williams of New Jersey would fill the role in The Wiz Live!. Williams had co-starred in local productions of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and West Side Story among others, and in 2014, was nominated for a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Award for best leading actress.[9]

The special was directed by Kenny Leon and adapted for television by Harvey Fierstein from the original musical's book by William F. Brown. Fatima Robinson was the program's choreographer, with Harvey Mason, Jr. and Stephen Oremus serving as the musical directors.[10] Songs from the original Broadway production were featured, with two exceptions: "You Can't Win", a song cut from the musical and first used in its 1978 feature film adaptation as sung by Michael Jackson, was used in place of the Scarecrow's key number "I Was Born on the Day Before Yesterday", and "We Got It",[11] a new song composed by Harvey Mason Jr., Stephen Oremus with stars Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelley, was performed as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion began their journey to find and kill the Wicked Witch of the West.[2]

The cost of a 30-second commercial during The Wiz ranged between $330,000 to $350,000, marking a drop from the $345,000 to $400,000 cost of ad time during Peter Pan Live!. The decrease in ad cost was attributed to the modest viewership of Peter Pan in comparison to The Sound of Music Live!, which an analyst felt was a result of the reduced novelty of the production in comparison to The Sound of Music. Reddi-wip served as a main sponsor of the presentation; Walmart, which served as a major sponsor of NBC's previous live musicals, declined to participate. NBC produced themed commercials to air throughout the special as part of the brand's "Share the Joy" campaign; one, which was timed to air after the corresponding scene in the musical, featured "A Brand New Day" being performed by students of the Excel Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland—a school which ConAgra Foods had donated money to in support of musical arts.[12][13][14][15][16]

Musical numbers

The list of musical numbers is taken from the actual broadcast and are in order as they appear in the broadcast and include the characters' names who perform the song.

All numbers composed by Charlie Smalls save for the following: "Tornado" is composed by Timothy Graphenreed and Harold Wheeler. "Emerald City Ballet (Psst)" is composed by Graphenreed and George Faison. "We Got It" is written by Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Harvey Mason Jr, and Stephen Oremus.[11] "Everybody Rejoice/A Brand New Day" is composed by Luther Vandross.


Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 91% rating, based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The site's consensus states: "The Wiz Live! is several notches above NBC's other musical broadcasts thanks to bold performances and large-scale production pieces."[17] Metacritic reports a weighted average of 73 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[18]


The Wiz Live! was seen by 11.5 million viewers, with a 3.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Although higher than Peter Pan Live!, it trailed a Thursday Night Football game on CBS between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, which was seen by around 17 million.[19][20] Average household viewership was particularly higher in regions with a large African-American population, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Norfolk, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.[20] Nielsen also reported that the special produced the most social network interactions of any live television event in the past four years; there were three times as many Twitter postings related to The Wiz Live! than there were related to Peter Pan Live!.[20] NBC rebroadcast the special on December 19, 2015.[21] The rebroadcast was seen by 1.6 million viewers.[22]


Home media release

NBC released a DVD of the special on December 22, 2015,[26] through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes the behind-the-scenes special, The Making of The Wiz Live!.[27]

See also


  1. "The Wiz Live!". NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Khan, Jessica (22 October 2015). "SCOOP: NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Will Feature New Song by NE-YO, Plus Movie Tune for 'Scarecrow'". Broadway World. Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ne-Yo (actor) (November 25, 2015). "The Wiz LIVE!" Cast! (live television interview). Retrieved December 29, 2015. This is a kind of blend of the Broadway musical and the movie, so it's like both of them combined.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dean, Van (2015). The Wiz Live!: Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event (booklet). Queen Latifah. New York,New York: Sony Music Entertainment. p. 3. 88875 18787 2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Breaking News: Y'all Got It! Capathia Jenkins, Marcus Paul James and More Broadway Vets Join THE WIZ LIVE! - Full Cast Announced!". Broadway World. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Andreeva, Nellie (11 May 2015). "Stephanie Mills Joins 'The Wiz Live!' On NBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Byrd, Craig (15 July 2015). "Curtain Call: For The Record Finds New Life With a Cirque Du Soleil/Baz Luhrmann Mash-Up". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Crook, John (26 November 2015). "'The Wiz Live!': NBC's latest live musical broadcast from Long Island". Newsday. Retrieved 26 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "NBC's 'The Wiz' Finds Its Dorothy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Petski, Denise (1 June 2015). "Fatima Robinson, Harvey Mason Jr & Stephen Oremus Board 'The Wiz Live!'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 Rorke, Robert (22 November 2015). "Ne-Yo: My 'Wiz Live!' Tin Man transformation is 'not comfortable at all'". New York Post. New York Post. Retrieved 23 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Reddi-Wip Adds Sweet Sounds as 'Wiz' Sponsor". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Wal-Mart's Peter Pan 'Warr' Room". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Walmart Takes Big Role in 'Peter Pan Live!'". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Madison Avenue Pushes Back On Price For TV's Live 'Wiz,' 'Grease'". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "NBC Hopes The Wiz Live Will Be More Like Sound of Music and Less Like Peter Pan". Adweek. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Wiz Live! (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 13, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Wiz Live! - NBC". Metacritic. Retrieved December 13, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Thursday final ratings: 'The Wiz Live' holds, 'CMA Country Christmas' adjusts down plus final NFL numbers". Zap 2 It. Retrieved 5 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 "'The Wiz Live' Ratings Strong: NBC Musical Draws 11.5 Million Viewers". Variety. Retrieved 4 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Ratings Hit The Wiz Live! Sets Rebroadcast Date". Playbill. Retrieved 6 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "TV Ratings Saturday: Democratic debate down but leads a soft night". Zap 2 It. Retrieved 22 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Creed, Empire, Black-ish top NAACP Image Awards winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Critics' Choice Award Nominations Led by 'Mad Max,' 'Fargo'". Variety. Retrieved 31 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "16th Annual Black Reel Award Nominations"
  26. Gina Carbone (December 22, 2015). "What's New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: December 21–27". Movie Fone. Whale Rock Industries. Retrieved December 21, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. BWW News Desk (December 22, 2015). "NBC's THE WIZ LIVE! Coming to DVD Later This Month!". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved December 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links