NBC is rounding out the cast of “The Wiz Live!” with recording artists Common and Ne-Yo, and “Hairspray” star Elijah Kelley, the network announced Thursday at its Television Critics Assn. summer press tour presentation.
Kelley will play the Scarecrow, the first of the three friends to meet Dorothy (Shanice Williams). He’s always dreamed of having brains, never realizing that he’s the smartest of them all. The role marks a reunion between Kelley and his “Hairspray” co-star Queen Latifah. It will be the actor’s second collaboration with “Wiz” executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also served as EPs on “Hairspray.”
Ne-Yo will play the Tin Man, who was once a flesh-and-blood woodsman until a spell put on him by the Wicked Witch caused him to lose his limbs and heart — but not his ability to feel.
Oscar and Grammy winner Common will play the Bouncer, the gatekeeper of the entrance to Emerald City who is out to get what he can from Dorothy and her three friends.
They join Queen Latifah as as the Wiz; Mary J. Blige as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West; David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion; Uzo Aduba as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South; Amber Riley as Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North; and Stephanie Mills (who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”) as Auntie Em.
“The Wiz Live!” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at the Majestic Theatre and won seven Tonys, including best musical.
Kenny Leon (Tony winner, “A Raisin in the Sun”) and Matthew Diamond are directors, with Harvey Fierstein (three-time Tony winner for “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray” and “La Cage aux Folles”) providing new written material.
Choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Dreamgirls,” “Ali”) is also on board, along with music producer Harvey Mason Jr. (“Dreamgirls, “Pitch Perfect 2”) and Stephen Oremus (“The Book of Mormon,” “Kinky Boots”) as music director, orchestrator and co-producer of the music. The show is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.
“The Wiz Live!” airs Thursday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. on NBC.