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The Wiz Live! (2015)

TV-G | | Musical | TV Movie 3 December 2015
A live production of the 1975 Broadway musical, "The Wiz", which put a modern spin on the classic "Wizard of Oz" tale with a cast of only African-American actors.
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3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Stephanie Mills ...
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Ensemble / Cirque
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Crow
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Munchkin
Marcus Paul James ...
Winkie, Messenger
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Storyline

A live production of the 1975 Broadway musical, "The Wiz", which put a modern spin on the classic "Wizard of Oz" tale with a cast of only African-American actors.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Ease on down the road to Oz!

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Musical

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TV-G
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3 December 2015 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan originally planned to make a television film for Disney based on The Wiz in 1998 with Anika Noni Rose as Dorothy Gale and Paula Abdul providing choreography. However, these plans fell through because of rights issues with Universal. See more »

Quotes

Dorothy Gale: You mean the Wiz is...
The Cowardly Lion: ...a fraud!
Tin-Man: And a woman!
Dorothy Gale: And what's wrong with bein' a woman?
Tin-Man: Uh, nothin'...
Dorothy Gale: That's right! Nothin' wrong with bein' a woman. I don't know where y'all fools learned y'all manners.
See more »


Soundtracks

The Feeling We Once Had
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Stephanie Mills
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User Reviews

 
Surprisingly not ANYWHERE nearly as bad as I had anticipated
26 December 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First of all, after seeing the original version of this amazing musical during its initial Broadway run in the mid-70s nearly 40 years ago which was one of the many incredible Broadway musicals to come out of that decade, and then seeing the most horrible (I can't say it enough) HORRIBLE vomit-inducing film version with 34-year-old Diana Ross in 1978 that was SO bad that it lost nearly half its budget, and then hearing that they were using a woman in the role of the Wiz this time around, I must admit that I went into this with more than a good deal of trepidation and very low expectations.

Well, other than Queen Latifah's performance of her two songs which were keyed so low compared to the original B'way version (sung by the still-amazing Andre DeShields) that she sounded like Bea Arthur and they lost all their energy and excitement, and the one ridiculously corny "new" song sung by Dorothy and her friends before leaving the Wiz's palace to try and do away with Evilene, EVERY SINGLE PERFORMANCE was flawless! All of the singing and dancing was done extremely well (although while Ms. Blige did do a fine job of acting and singing, she is certainly no gospel-singing Mabel King). The choreography was difficult yet fun and very well executed. But the main events were the costumes, wigs, makeup, sets, lighting, and special/video effects. For what was essentially a "stage" show, these items made a televised version of this show amazingly spectacular to watch. The one costume that really stood out for me was Glinda's golden spun-sugar gown near the end. While as a young child watching the 1939 version once a year on broadcast TV and seeing Billie Burke in that incredibly beautiful humongous pink sparkly gown and crazily-tall star-topped crown, I even took to drawing it once in awhile even though I had no skill in drawing. To me it was that beautiful and memorable. But this gown just took my breath away. It reminded me of something done with the help of CGI from last year's live-action Disney version of "Cinderella."

Most of the stand-out singing, dancing, and acting performances came from the four main characters, all of which were wonderful. But Uzo Aduba totally blew me away with her song, "If You Believe" as she sounded every bit as good as Dee Dee Bridgewater from the original B'way version which was absolutely shocking as I didn't even know Ms. Aduba could sing let alone have such great vocal chops.

However, I think the greatest flaw (and I hate to say it since I have always been one of his biggest fans, both of his writing and acting) was Harvey Fierstein's script. In fact, I almost stopped my DVR after the first four minutes in Kansas because the script was so far removed from the original. But I must compliment him highly on the touching scene when the foursome catches the "Wiz" in her bathrobe and she explains to each of them how they already have what they have been seeking, and how she came to be "The Wiz," as well as Dorothy's convincing speech to her about her being trapped in the dark, in secrecy, alone, and unloved. Very redeeming writing compared to much of the "updated" mediocre writing earlier.

Before I end this review, I must give Stephanie Mills her due. When she performed on Broadway she was merely 17. Now she is in her 50s, and believe it or not, her voice sounds EXACTLY the same as it did 40 years ago. In fact, I am listening to her version of "Home" from the Original Broadway Cast Recording at this very moment, and there is absolutely NO difference in the quality or strength of her voice in this new version. Kudos, Ms. Mills for hanging onto your amazing chops after all these years.

One more thing I have to mention to those who stated in the Message Boards that Shanice Williams was "too old" to play Dorothy. In the 1939 film version of "The Wizard of Oz" Judy Garland was 16, in the original Broadway version of "The Wiz" Stephanie Mills was 17, and Ms. Williams is only 19. In comparison, Diana Ross was 34 when she did the film version, so who was really too old to play Dorothy? And what difference is age in a performer, as long as they don't LOOK too old (as Ms. Ross definitely did in 1978). Just watch any of the four comedies on ABC on Wednesday nights and you will see a good number of young actors in their 20s playing high school and college students much younger than their actual ages. This has been going on in film and TV since forever.

In closing, an all-around surprisingly terrific "live" TV version of a great American Broadway Musical. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anybody think the cast was on the heavy side? bump-00841
David Alan Grier is Stellar as Cowardly Lion blkiguana
Stephanie Mills Will Always Be the Queen of "Home" bma83
Excellent Mary J Blige! junetenbrown
The original Wizard of Oz was a true "racist" production ... bluetate
Finally an age appropriate Dorothy! snowsbeau
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