The Wiz’s’ Stephanie Mills Coming Back For NBC’s Live Production

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The Wiz’s’ Stephanie Mills Coming Back For NBC’s Live Production
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 11, 2015

Source: Variety

Stephanie Mills

Actress-singer Stephanie Mills, who originated the role of Dorothy in the 1979 Broadway production of The Wiz, has been cast in NBC’s live staging of the famed musical, Variety reported following its announcement at the network’s Upfronts presentation this morning.

Mills will be play Auntie Em. According to Playbill, Aunt Em isn’t a huge role; she’s in the first scene and then makes a brief appearance at the end. She does, however, get the opening number (“The Feeling We Once Had”), which has lots of room for an show-stopping vocal performance to start the broadcast off with a bang.

Producer Bob Greenblatt also announced that the network is looking for a “fresh face” to star as Dorothy.

While playing Dorothy, Mills received a Drama Desk nomination for her performance.

Airing on Thursday, Dec. 3, “The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division. After the television event, the musical will make its Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season, presented by Cirque du Soleil.

The Wiz LiveKenny Leon will direct both NBC’s production and the Broadway revival, along with Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who exec produced NBC’s “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” return as exec producers. The duo also recently produced Academy Awards.

Stephanie Mills The Wiz“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.

It opened on October 21, 1974 at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to the Majestic Theatre with a new cast on January 5, 1975. The 1975 Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical was an early example of Broadway’s mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast. The musical has had revivals in New York, London, San Diego and theNetherlands, and a limited-run revival was presented by Encores! at New York City Center in June 2009. A film adaptation was released in 1978. That film starred Diana Ross, Michael Jackson (in his first film), Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Theresa Merritt, Thelma Carpenter, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor.

The musical toured the US in 1976 and the show was revived on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre from May 24, 1984, through June 3, 1984, closing after 13 performances and 7 previews. Directed by Geoffrey Holder, the cast featured Stephanie Mills as Dorothy.

  1. This is very cool news!