Live televised musicals: pretty much always a bad idea, right? If we were to go off of previous experience – Carrie Underwood in Sound of Music Live, and don’t even get me started on the Alison Williams Peter Pan Live because we’ll be here all day – it would follow that yes, they are always a bad idea. But, and this is a big but, the live televised remake of The Wiz, the rework of The Wizard of Oz that started on the stage before being adapted into Sydney Lumet’s 1978 musical film, seems like it might be the show to break the mould.
While Lumet’s 1978 film starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Richard Pryor, tonight’s show features Queen Latifah in Pryor’s role as the Wiz,Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba as Glinda the Good Witch, Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch of the West, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man and many more. But perhaps the most exciting thing about the show, which airs tonight at 8:00 on NBC, is 19-year-old newcomer Shanice Williams, who will be playing Dorothy.
The unknown actress’s first professional audition was for the role, so there’s a lot riding on tonight, but all signs point to her debut being a successful one.
Stephanie Mills, who originated the Dorothy role on Broadway 40 years ago, offered her seal of approval to Williams, encouraging her to take the role and make it her own. In an interview with E! News, Mills said, “I don’t want her to try to live up to what I did. It’s hers. I passed the torch onto her.“
Tune in tonight and see for yourself. And don’t forget to keep your eye on Twitter for all of the biting commentary, memes and encouragement that are sure to follow.