NBC’s following the yellow brick road to The Wiz, selecting the Broadway musical as the network’s next live production. NBC will be teaming up with Cirque du Soleil Theatrical to bring The Wiz to life as a live broadcast on Thursday, December 3, 2015. The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!‘s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will executive produce the musical and Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon will helm the NBC production. Leon and Cirque du Soleil Theatrical will also be backing a Broadway revival of The Wiz, along with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, for the 2016-2017 season.
“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 Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “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.”
The Wiz was adapted from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The original Broadway show opened in 1975, ran for four years, and earned seven Tony Awards.
Executive producer Zadan said, “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.” Executive producer Meron added, “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did Steel Magnolias and Raisin in the Sun with us.”
Casting will be announced closer to the air date.
The Wiz tells the classic story hundreds of millions of people have read in the L. Frank Baum books 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.
-By Rebecca Murray
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