You’ve heard me rattle on all year about these televised musicals. The Wiz airs Thursday night on NBC, and it is going to be far better than the live musicals of the previous years, which is good for musical lovers but bad for live-tweeters.
This article from the Hollywood Reporter explains that The Wiz – played by Queen Latifah, BTW – and Dorothy get new backstories and greater depth and that Dorothy gets to be ‘the hero of her own story’, which is awesome. The Wiz is a better show than The Wizard of Oz, but either way, let’s face it, Dorothy’s got shades of being a Mary Sue.
However, there are far fewer people, even musical nerds, who know The Wiz. There are characters who don’t appear in the original, it was created to have an all-black cast, and the music is different (but way better). Which means the show isn’t generating as much anticipatory hype as I would like, as opposed to, say, Fox’s snore-worthy attempt to catch up by mounting the pablum of musicals, Grease, in JANUARY.
Common is in this production! Mary J Blige and Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley! Now, not only is it going to be a better show than the past two years, it’s also going to be gender bendy and modern and hopefully subversive in other ways.
We’re always talking about how to change the inequalities we see in our day-to-day. Hollywood can be all talk and no action, but sometimes art can influence life. After all, look at the amazing race-blind casting in Hamilton (and while you’re at it, tell Lainey how much she’s missing out on by not listening to it already! She thinks it’s going to be a ‘musical’).
My point is, The Wiz is an amazing show, and this version is going to be particularly great. I know you wouldn’t let unfamiliarity dissuade you from checking something out. You wouldn’t allow yourself to think it ‘wasn’t for you’. But if you know someone who would, play them “Ease on down the road”. Nobody can stay away.