As shocking as it may sound to some, I’m not really that huge on musicals and stage plays. Growing up however, there was one production that I just could not get enough of. That was The Wiz. When mom introduced me the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz, I recall watching it on repeat. Songs like “He’s the Wizard,” “You Can’t Win,” and “Ease on Down the Road,” always had me on my feet singing along. So needless to say, when I heard NBC was doing a remake of this childhood classic, I was extremely excited. With a snack in one hand and a phone in the other (for social media purposes of course), I joined the millions of other people for last night’s broadcast. Now having seen The Wiz Live I can thankfully report, it was an overall hit. And here’s my top moments from the show.
- Shanice Williams was a Great Dorothy
I thought Shanice Williams did a phenomenal job last night. Among all the big celebs in the cast, she was the one name I honestly quite familiar with; and therefore, I didn’t know what to expect. But she honestly held her own amongst all the famous talent. She should be very proud of herself. Her voice actually reminded me of a young Stephanie Mills. Kudos to her.
- Elijah Kelley Does Justice to a Role Made Famous by MJ Himself
Once Elijah sang the first few bars of “You Can’t Win,” I was sold. I bought all in. I’m sure the King of Pop Michael Jackson himself would have been immensely proud to see his former shoes being filled so well. Listen, I know Elijah didn’t necessarily have all the runs that MJ offered back in the late 70s. But he still did a fantastic job. He even hit a few entertaining dance moves. They couldn’t have casted the Scarecrow any better.
- Mary J. is Impressive as Evillene
I for one was pleasantly surprised at how well Mary J. Blige embodied her character last night. I ashamedly was hesitant in believing that she could embody such a beloved villain, and sing the gospel inspired “Don’t No Body Bring Me No Bad News” to the caliber that the great Mabel King did. Well Mary was 2 for 2 last night. She acted the part, and sang her face off. And to top it all off, she even busted out a little two step for the people. She did “Just Fine” (get it LOL!)
- Emerald City Got a Major Facelift
Like many viewers last night, when Dorothy and crew made it to Emerald City I was expecting to hear the famous “Emerald City Sequence.” For those that are not familiar or simply forgot, click on the video for a refresher.
Well instead of that, the audience was treated to something entirely different. Not a bad different either. Last night Emerald City got a facelift that reminded many folks in the social media realm of a particular kind of club and scene. I’m not sure what provoked the show’s producers and director to make such a modern change, but I applaud it.
- Amber Shows off the Depths of Her Pipes
If you didn’t respect Amber Riley as a vocalist before, you most definitely respect her as one now. Although she was in spotlight for her ability to sing well on Glee. Last night she SANG! The range, the runs, and the occasional grunts from Amber gave me the chills. So much so in fact, that she hands down had the best performance on that stage with “He’s the Wizard.” I found myself watching her sing that two plus minute song a few times. I don’t know what her future career goals are musically, but I sincerely hope Clive Davis or L.A. Reid get a hold of her and help propel her up the music charts.
Again, I overall thought The Wiz Live was a hit. I only have two critiques to report. First, where was Toto? Although a minor character in the story, he has always been seen as an important one. Second, “Ease on Down the Road” fell a little flat to me. Each time the cast sang the song, I found myself reminiscing on the film’s version of the track.
But what did you all think? Did you like The Wiz Live?