Black Excellence was on full display last night with the airing of NBC’s epic 3 hour long live event, The Wiz Live! Viewers around the country cautiously but excitedly tuned into the modern day reimagining of the original 1975 Broadway musical starring Stephanie Mills as Dorothy, which was followed closely by a 1978 film version starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne to name a few. Needless to say, this version had some pretty big slippers to fill – and it did just that.
NBC’s third attempt at a live winter production (after The Sound Of Music and Peter Pan) was undoubtedly the most inventive and entertaining. From the beautiful set design to the glamorous costumes designed by Paul Tazewell and jaw dropping musical performances, it’s difficult to categorize The Wiz Live! as anything short of greatness. NBC and the phenomenal cast of characters pulled out all of the stops and folks nationwide were here for it.
Newcomer Shanice Williams not only held her own as Dorothy but completely blew it out of the park! To be just 19 years old and so new to acting, we were all impressed with how well she did!
Without further adieu, here are ten things we loved about The Wiz Live!
1. Amber Riley’s performance of “He’s The Wiz” as Addapearle, The Good Witch Of The North
We relish any opportunity to see this former Glee star set the stage on fire. She was simply outstanding.
2. Ne-Yo as The Tin Man
Singer/Songwriter Extraordinaire lit up the stage from the very first time we were introduced to his character. With smooth moves (he even hit the dab at one point) and smoother vocals, Ne-Yo shined bright.
3. Shanice Williams (Dorothy) singing “Be A Lion” to David Alan Grier’s character This performance tugged at our heart strings and Shanice sang it beautifully. 4. The Vogueing Number “Slay, Serve, Work” Whaaat? Yesssss.
5. The Poppies
The Poppies’ seductive Beyoncé-like moves were unexpected, but welcomed and had everyone in awe, Cowardly Lion included.
6. The Munchkins Snazzy Style
Rocking twists, braids and all kinds of naturally gorgeous hairstyles, the munchkins were a treat to watch and their colorful costumes were the icing on the cake.
7. When the cast performed Ne-Yo’s original song “We Got It”
Ne-Yo’s songwriting ability is top notch and this one is definitely has theatre classic potential.
8. Mary J. Blige as The Wicked Witch Of The West
Mary was hand down the most glamorous villain in all villain history and her steampunk dungeon lair was actually pretty cool.
9. Uzo Aduba as Glinda The Good Witch
Uzo showed up late in the game but arrived looking a straight up VISION dipped completely in gold then proceeded to provide us with life when she sang “Believe In Yourself.”
10. Shanice William’s Performance Of “Home”
Here is where the waterworks could not be stopped. All of this greatness culminated in an epic performance by the young treasure that is Shanice Williams. We don’t know what made us cry more – seeing a brown girl kill it in such a major way or seeing the entire cast put on a show that proves Black Excellence is real and here to stay.