NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” has found its Dorothy in newcomer Shanice Williams.
The 18-year-old, who was selected out of hundreds of applicants from a nationwide, open casting call, will join the titular Wiz Queen Latifah, Wicked Witch of the West Mary J. Blige and Cowardly Lion David Alan Grier in the live NBC show, it was announced Wednesday on “Today.”
Stephanie Mills, who starred as Dorothy in the original Broadway production of the African-American adaptation, has landed the part of Aunt Em.
The Wiz will mark Williams’ TV debut. She co-starred in several plays in her home state of New Jersey, including “West Side Story,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “42nd Street” and “Pippin.”
The Wiz follows NBC’s live musical specials of “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan.” Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were behind both of the aforementioned NBC productions, will exec produce “The Wiz Live.” Kenny Leon is stage director, and Matthew Diamond is TV director, with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material.
“The Wiz Live!” is adapted from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The play opened on Broadway in 1975 and won seven Tonys, including best musical, during its four-year run. The musical was turned into a film in 1978, starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor.
“The Wiz Live!” airs on December 3.