In what is becoming a yearly tradition, NBC is resurrecting a classic Broadway musical for a star-studded live performance, and this time, it’s The Wiz, the 1975 Tony Award-winner adapted from L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and featuring an all-black cast. (Today, it’s probably most remembered for Sidney Lumet’s movie adaptation, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and a pre-Off the Wall Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.) The first promo is here, and while it doesn’t tell us much, it immediately calls to mind the bright, effervescent Oz of the 1939 Judy Garland film rather than the grittier, ’70s-era New York City seen in the 1978 movie. Also, the part of Toto will apparently be played by an adorable white-haired terrier rather than a black one, making Toto the only white member of the cast.
Could it be that this time around, NBC’s live musical could actually serve as good live theater, rather than something to hate-watch and snark about on Twitter? We shall see—the failed movie adaptation aside, The Wiz is inarguably a stronger, better show than the incredibly dated Peter Pan, and while we initially had other folks in mind, the cast (which also includes newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man, and Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow, plus Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba, and The Wiz’s original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills) looks pretty great. The live show airs on Dec. 3.