“The Wiz” marks NBC’s third such production, following the success of “The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood, and “Peter Pan Live!,” in which Allison Williams played the title character.
“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, also presented by Cirque du Soleil.
Casting for both projects has yet to be announced.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who exec produced NBC’s “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” return as exec producers. Kenny Leon directs both the TV production and the Broadway revival, along with Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to not only produce this as our next live musical for NBC, but to then see it move to Broadway for a new generation to experience,” said Zadan. Meron added, “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did ‘Steel Magnolias’ and ‘Raisin in the Sun’ with us.”
Opening in 1975, “The Wiz” ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tonys, including best musical. It retells the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context. NBC’s announcement of the holiday television event comes at a time when broadcast networks are setting more diversified roles and casting more and more minority actors on TV, following the success of Fox’s “Empire” and ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” among other series.
“We love this yearly tradition, and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events, and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division. Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”
“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,’” Zeiger said. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years, and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”
Earlier this year, Greenblatt confirmed that the Peacock had licensed the rights to “The Wiz,” which was a contender for 2015 along with “The Music Man.”
“The Wiz” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum, with Brown’s book and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Universal Television will produce.
Fox is following in NBC’s footsteps with a live television production of “Grease,” starring Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens, slated for Jan. 31.