Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige Cast in NBC’s Live Production of The Wiz — Plus …

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige Set to Star in the The Wiz Live!.

Latifah will play the mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but who is keeping the secret that her metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is a hoax since she only got to Oz as a result of a faulty hot air balloon ride.

NBC announced Thursday that the stars have officially been cast in The Wiz Live!, the much-anticipated adaptation of the 1975 Broadway hit, PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly can exclusively reveal. Blige will portray Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West – aka, The One With the Winged Monkeys. “I can’t wait to watch Mary bring the badness that is Evillene,” said Atlanta’s Tony-winning director, Leon. “Her talent range is off the charts and I know audiences won’t be able to take their eyes off her.” A previous casting announcement unveiled Stephanie Mills – who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz” – as Auntie Em in this NBC version, which will air Dec. 3. As for the lead role of Dorothy, it was announced in June that the network will hold an open casting call, giving an unknown actress the chance to take center stage. “The story of Dorothy has always been about someone new,” casting director Bernard Tesley told PEOPLE of the reason behind the decision in June. “It feels like the innocence of Dorothy should be a face that we don’t recognize and don’t know.” After the December telecast, Cirque du Soleil – who will oversee the production – will present The Wiz as a Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season. In addition to Chicago, Latifah co-starred in Hairspray and the TV film Steel Magnolias — all of which were executive produced by Zadan and Meron. “We are so happy reuniting with Latifah,” said Zadan and Meron. “We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve had quite a lot of success together. Blige’s evil Evillene holds sway over her minions, the Winkies and Winged Monkeys, and captures Dorothy and her friends to avenge her sister Evvamean and get her silver slippers back.

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