7 Things We Loved About Nbc's the Wiz Live!
This may have been NBC’s third attempt at staging a live musical, but it’s the first one that worked without any caveats necessary. This was a musical event that was finally worth watching and not just hate-watching. Check out what we loved most (and 1 thing we didn't) below and then read the full review here: http://avc.lu/1Itwvjw
- •Newcomer Shanice Williams as DorothyRather than give audiences a celebrity to root against this year, NBC smartly offered an underdog to root for. Williams is easily the best lead NBC has cast so far, bringing heart and conviction to her modern day Dorothy. If her acting was sometimes a little low-energy, she more than made up for it each time she opened her mouth to sing.
- •Harvey Fierstein's thoughtful script updatesAs The Wiz Live!'s script doctor, Fiertsein made many smart, subtle changes by creating a tight thematic through-line for Dorothy. There’s always been something odd about the tale of a young girl who dreams of adventure, goes on one, and ultimately decides the best way to live life is to never, ever leave home again. Here Fierstein gives Dorothy a tragic backstory that makes “home” an active choice and not a narrative cop-out.
- •A deep bench of supporting player show-stoppersReally, the bulk of the supporting cast could have their own spots on this list. The structure of the show allowed for a number of familiar faces to pop up to steal scenes, keeping the journey down the Yellow Brick Road feeling fresh and exciting. Special mention to Amber Riley (a natural on stage, with killer pipes) and Uzo Aduba (we've loved her since OITNB, but who knew she could sing like THAT).
- •Queen Latifah in drag, reigning over a voguing Emerald CityEven if Queen Latifah was a little vocally underwhelming, it was a joy to see her as both the androgynous, highly-contoured Wiz and the less-put-together woman behind the curtain. Plus, we couldn't get enough of the fierce Emerald City dancers.
- •Choreographer Fatima RobinsonAnd, while we're talking about voguing, how about music video director Fatima Robinson's excellent choreography? Most of her dance numbers were stellar, from the sensual, assertive poppies to the delightfully blasé voguers. Plus her movement added a playful visual spark to each rendition of “Ease On Down The Road.”
- •It was perfect showcase for diverse talentThe broadcast was full of black actors of all different ages, skin tones, and body types playing characters that ranged from saintly to villainous and everywhere in-between. The show asserted—often explicitly—that these characters are smart, brave, loving, powerful, and beautiful. The Wiz Live! sent a strong message to black audiences while simultaneously offering up a goofy, heartwarming piece of entertainment for everyone.
- •The crows!The crow chorus for "You Can Win” sounded amazing. We'd definitely buy tickets to see them take their boy(crow?) band on the road.
- •The one change we'd make?: Film it in front of a live audience!Even the best-performed musical numbers (and there were a lot of them here) land with a thud when there’s no applause after them. And a bunch of really funny lines got lost in the shuffle without a laughing crowd to buoy them up. And while part of this problem is specific to The Wiz, NBC also needs to find a better way to wrap up these musicals—perhaps with an actual curtain call.