Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige ease on down the road in ‘The Wiz Live!’

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Wiz Live!’ now has its Wiz and Witch: Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige.

Musical fans still have a few months before they have the chance to watch “The Wiz Live!” — the song-and-dance adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” — but they’re already getting an idea of what’s to come thanks to some big casting news. Latifah, who received rave reviews for her musical maneuvers in 2002’s big-screen version of “Chicago,” will take on the part of the seemingly powerful Wiz.

The Emmy- and Oscar-nominated “Bessie” star will play the all-powerful Wiz, and Blige will play baddie Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, the network announced Tuesday. The African American-oriented “The Wiz” originated onstage in the 1970s, and the 1975 Broadway production went on to win seven Tony Awards, including best musical.

To see her play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event.” The production duo are also no strangers when it comes to small-screen musicals, as they also worked together on NBC’s 2013 production of “The Sound of Music Live!” Of course, the television event won’t be the first time the stage musical has come to the screen. Latifah’s musical past includes starring in 2002’s Chicago, for which she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Academy Awards, and 2007’s Hairspray.

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. Queen Latifah’s Wiz character is described as a mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax. 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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