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As we creep into the holiday season, we start to look forward to various traditions. One of our more recent TV traditions is the NBC live musical. Following the success (for certain values of the word) of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan, we’re now in the run up to a very popular alternative fairy tale, The Wiz, and we just got our first look at the primary cas. And honestly, they’ve got this thing nailed.
Our lead cast consists of David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Shanice Williams as Dorothy, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man and Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow. The TV movie will also include Queen Latifah as the titular Wiz and Mary J. Blige as Evillene, who is the Wicked Witch character. The cast certainly has the voice talent that a musical requires. What’s more, the costumes for this urbanized version of The Wizard of Oz look superb. They’re all looking good, but there are a couple of standouts.
The Tin Man, as portrayed by Ne-Yo, looks perfect. His coloring is much more reminiscent of the original cinematic Tin Man from the 1939 film while still being a very different character. The outfit, including what appears to be a helmet, looks a bit more “construction worker” than woodsman, but this is a story that has been well modernized as time goes on, so that may very well be the way this character is going. He’s also, somehow, the most stylin’ member of the team, which is not easy to pull off when your wardrobe is a single color.
In the 1978 film of The Wiz, the Scarecrow was played by Michael Jackson. The man taking the reigns of that part is The Butler’s Elijah Kelley, and he certainly has the scarecrow look down, complete with mismatched and worn-out clothing. Jackson’s scarecrow was significantly lacking in the straw department, probably because it was difficult to make it look believable in 1978. It looks like they’re making up for it here by having Kelley’s scarecrow burst with straw pretty much wherever they could find a place to put it.
NBC’s live musicals are nearly always entertaining. Though occasionally, it’s only because watching Christopher Walken overact live is an experience that must be seen to be believed. The Wiz is on deck to see what it can do now. We’re not sure how it will sound, but it’s already looking pretty good, and we'll find out how it all comes together when it premieres on Thursday, December 3.