NBC’s ‘The Wiz Live!': A Live Recap
Here’s something you may not know about me: I love musicals. I mean, you’re looking at someone who sat through six seasons of Glee by choice. BY CHOICE! Here’s another thing: I love television so much so that I dare you to find a show I don’t watch. (Okay, they exist, but shush.)
So, when NBC announced that their follow up to 2013’s ratings juggernaut The Sound of Music Live! and 2014’s not so stellar, gender-bending Peter Pan Live!, was going to be The Wiz, I screamed — and then scratched my head and said "Huh?"
Not only because I never saw The Wiz on Broadway (or even saw the movie), basically all I know about it is Michael Jackson and Diana Ross were in the movie adaption — but that’s not why I scratched my head. I scratched my head because this was a live musical, which is an entertainment event commandeered by network executives as a huge ratings draw that would be made up of an all African-American cast.
What? Diversity on a major network? Diversity used not as a gimmick, but as a tool to broaden the scope of TV? Is this Scandal? Did I drink too much wine during TGIT?
Now, I am a sucker for this stuff. I live-tweet basically anything, I will live-tweet dinner if I truly want to — and you better believe I have before. But, I am so excited for this. Not only for the huge step forward that this signals for major networks and its aim to increase diversity, but...I mean. Have you seen the star power in this?! Emmy winner Uzo Aduba? R&B legends Mary J. Blige and Ne-Yo!? Amber Riley from Glee?! On top of all this, NBC got Queen Latifah!?! The same woman who played Mama in the movie version of Chicago is now on NBC playing The Wizard!?!?!?! NBC truly came to play — and play to win.
Enough of my fangirling. This is a three hour long show, and I am going to have a lot of things to say. Let’s go on down the yellow brick road, shall we?
We open on the quintessential windmill and some nice down home country folk.
Oh, look. Its Elijah Kelly and Ne-Yo in their human form! Except we're probably not supposed to know that…
Has Stephanie Mills always been this small? 'Cause she looks like a munchkin. That’s a rather cute dog, isn’t it? Aunt Em ain’t got time for Dorothy and her ungrateful ass. Best believe that! Dorothy hates everything, because she is a teen and life is hard. Aunt Em's just giving her love and paying her no mind.
FIRST SONG! Broadway vet (and Dorothy portrayer) Stephanie Mills is really bringing the great white way to the small screen. It’s quite dramatic. “The Feeling We Once Had” is a great song, but the feeling I'm currently having is that this is a snooze fest of an opening song — though Stephanie Mills is putting me through it!
Oh no — a storm is a coming! And the background dancers are the tornado? Alright, I’ll buy it. And Dorothy is in the air, literally singing for her life right now! And the transition from Kansas to Oz was kind of weak. That giant screen? Just no.
Apparently we have landed in Candyland, because these colors are bright! Dorothy is investigated for murder in this? Already way more realistic than The Wizard of Oz. These dresses look like the Disney spinning teacups. YAAAAAAAS MERCEDES. SLAY ME DOWN WITH THIS BLUE CUPCAKE ENSEMBLE. Addaperle is basically the Mercedes Jones of Oz and I am here for this. Addaperle is too hype for her sister to be dead, which means the evil witch was a bitch and the tea is spilt.
They got iPads in Oz? They have an app for this? What kind of wizadry? They have sushi in Oz? What the actual f--k is this?
Second song! Addaperle with the get down for “He’s The Wiz." Now this is important to note that Mercedes was always better than Rachel Berry, and you can notice this because LEA MICHELE COULD NEVER! Addaperle with the crump! Addaperle with the stand and deliver! ADDAPERLE 2016! I just got my life from Addaperle and you all will respect this.
Dorothy just out here killing these hoes and stealing her shoes. I see you shady girl, because I know Aunt Em taught you not to steal. Speaking of shoes, Addaperle’s platform blue wedges are great. The Munchkins are basically warning her that Dorothy is gonna get jumped on the Yellow Brick Road because even Dorothy ain't safe in these streets.
Also, does not one munchkin have a concern about leaving her alone? I have a lot of questions. I was waiting for Dorothy to be grown and basically bust out singing “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going,” because if I was her, I would sit my ass down.
Third Song! Shanice Williams is doing good for herself! Look at her go! However, her singing face kind of look like she is in IMMENSE pain. It kind of reminds me of my face when I watched Peter Pan Live! Is the yellow brick road now the keyboard from FAO Schwartz? I want the street to drop a beat every time I take a step.
ELIJAH KELLY! I have stanned ever since Hairspray and ever since he was a part of Gaga’s Grammy performance with Elton John. The Scarecrow acting like Dorothy got her wallet? Like she wouldn’t have lost it in the tornado? I feel like Oz is a gang land because these crows are just vicious.
Fourth song “You Can’t Win”! I feel like these crows could actually be good dancers if they didn’t have these stupid wings. Also why does the Scarecrow’s mask look like a Michael Meyers reject? Homeboy also needs shampoo because his hair is dry as straw. Oh, Scarecrow can break it down. I see you! Teach these crows! If you think about it, these crows are basically holding the Scarecrow hostage. Overall, first impression of Scarecrow: 9/10. Dorothy is like "Clap back, ya dumb ass birds, I done killed a witch."
Fifth song: “Ease on The Down Road." Shanice really got these pipes! Sing it to me! I kind of ship The Scarecrow and Dorothy. I’m going to call them Scarethy. First ship found in The Wiz Live!.
Ne-Yo is looking like he just bathed himself in Mercury. Ne-Yo is having night terrors thinking about Peter Pan.
Sixth Song! “Slide Some Oil On Me." Ne-Yo got soul and is making my tween heart beg. He breaks script for an impromptu performance of “So Sick”." He also sounds amazing. Is it too much to ask for Dorothy to assume the role of Rihanna and we can get a “Hate That I Love You” performance”? The Tinman got moves, out here popping and locking like Mr. Roboto.
Wait, I kind of ship The Tinman and Dorothy too. I found a love triangle in The Wiz! Though Scarethy > Tinthy. You see these two fighting over her? Usual male pissing contest.
Why is Ne-Yo talking like everybody’s down south home grown grandpa? Ne-Yo is a smooth ass Tinman, so I totally understand why Evillene was sweet on him like sweet tea in the south. The Tinman is praising Dorothy because Evillene was that ex who would slit your tires. And now off these three go because they are the real squad goals, screw off Taylor.
The Lion! He looks like Bob Marley and Asland had a baby, and instead of Narnia he ended up in Oz. SOMEBODY GOTTA CHECK DOROTHY! Killing witches and punching lions all in the first hour. If you really think about it, The Wiz is just about a strong ass, independent woman who is just trying to get home. Also I do not ship The Lion and Dorothy. I will make a quick observation about the first hour: EVERYONE in this production seems to be enjoying themselves, unlike Peter Pan, where they all look like they lost their soul.
They REALLY use “Ease On Down The Road," don’t they? I can’t get past Ne-Yo’s pappy twang. They all just left Dorothy? Some kind of fake ass friends. This is just mean, throwing a dead girl’s mother in front on her. Mama is acting shady — finna take these shoes. Mama is a mirage! God damn it. Also the munchkins warned you that this was monkey turf and you didn’t listen! NE-YO JUST SAID MOLLYWHOP LIKE HE FROM THESE STREETS! I mean, I guess he is, but by far my favorite line so far.
Eighth Song: “Be a Lion." Also, it only took a little over an hour, but Shanice is finally breaking a sweat and that’s how I like my main character — authentic and sweaty. Also, David Alan Grier got some pipes. Come on now! YAS, YOU A LION, FIND YOUR COURAGE! Okay, I kind of ship the Lion and Dorothy, but only as best friends, because you know he is ride or die now.
Oh, it looks like they’ve eased on down the road far enough to see the Emerald City finally. Oh, we’re breaking out the seduction number. Okay now? So far, Dorothy has faced crows, monkeys and now they’re fighting flowers, like this is some damn Final Fantasy video game. The Lion knows these hoes ain’t loyal, but it’s looking like one of the others are going to succumb to the feminine poppy wiles! The Lion with this two step is amazing. He’s just pushing these poppies aside because daddy lion ain't got no time, BOO YA!
Also these poppies showed out, putting Beyonce in "Partition" to shame.
COMMON! Common is the gatekeeper at the gay club who don’t let you in cause you’re not a twink. He is every horrible bouncer at every gay club in New York City. Also, as great as Common is, you can tell he is not the greatest actor because he is reading straight from cue cards.
THE EMERALD CITY IS THE GREATEST GAY CLUB I HAVE EVER SEEN! Where are the go-go boys doing lines in the bathroom and catty gays throwing drinks at their exes? Yes, this hand choreo. Britney would be so proud! I am honestly waiting for Lady Gaga to come out. YAS, SLAY, SERVE. This is every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race ever.
This is like Tron and the Born This Way Ball had a child, painted it green and I am here for it. YAS, YOU DON’T GET TO GO IN THERE. *Vogues*
Dorothy is really running with this whole "I killed a witch" thing, and she needs to be put in her place. It was an accident — you ain't a stone cold killer, you ain't about that life.
We’re going to meet The Wizard which means the Queen is coming. This giant ass head has some intense attitude issues. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS QUEEN LATIFAH COME THROUGH. I AM NOT WORTHY.
Queen Latifah as the wizard is already my costume for Halloween 2016. I was just slayed to my core.
Queen Latifah sitting on this throne is how I envision her sitting in her own house, because she is truly the Queen. The Wiz is like the leader of a drug ring and they are all the underlings asking for more money. The Wiz has literally no time for any of these people. Imagine being Shanice Williams and trying not to pee your pants in front of Queen Latifah? Literally an impossible task.
Okay on the real though, Ne-Yo is killing it. A great live performer, hitting all his notes and slaying the carpet down in the dancing game. Also he would be the only one brave enough to step to Queen Latifah. Ne-Yo ain't go no heart because he is so sick of love songs, to be honest.
When you good to Mama, Mama’s good to you, — and Mama wants you to kill a witch. See Dorothy? I told you. Acting like you a stone cold killer was gonna come back to bite you in the ass. The Wiz is literally like “I’m gonna let this dumb bitch get her hands dirty, because mama didn’t raise no fool." Plausible deniability at its finest.
DOROTHY IS READING THE SQUAD.
I lied when I said they were squad goals, because they are just running away when things get hard because they’re weak. Shanice Williams is really coming through with these vocals, she’s amazing, I stan.
This group number is empowering as f——k. I would go kill a witch if I listened to this beforehand. This is some eye of the tiger inspiration s—t.
Evillene’s factory looking like the worst steel mill known to man. It’s some steampunk realness. Evillene rolling in on this chariot is party entrance goals! Mary J’s face is beat to the GAWDS. Evillene out here tripping the help because she can do what she wants and to remind she is the HBIC. Mary J is taking us to church like this is the best Sunday school song ever! She is the auntie in the aisle clapping and thanking Jesus for all his blessings, and I am sitting here thanking NBC for casting Mary J as Evilline because this is beautiful.
However, Mary J cannot dance. Also her acting isn’t that great, but after her rendition of No Bad News” she is excused of everything. Also these monkeys are dancing to trap music. Let that sink in.
Mary J Blige just broke out a switch blade like she is from these streets and ready to cut a bitch! Except this time, Dorothy backed herself up and actually done killed a witch! That’s two witches in two hours. Dorothy the Witch Slayer, to be honest. Dorothy is probably a serial killer and Addaperle better watch herself.
This group number, “Brand New Day”, out here sounding like The Wiz’s version of High School Musical’s “We’re All In This Together." Also I am probably the first person in history to link these two musicals together, and you are welcome.
“Can you feel a brand new day?” Yes, tes I can because I know Uzo Aduba coming in soon to truly kill it. I feel like I have been going to church for three hours and we still haven’t even received communion.
And now we go back to The Emerald City, and The Wiz just cast the most severe form of shade by not letting Dorothy and the squad back through the green gates. Common has the stage presence of every sixth grader who is scared to death of the doing the talent show. Also The Wiz is basically a contract killer and Dorothy is an assassin. What kind of Kill Bill nonsense?
Queen Latifah flawlessly running an entire alternate universe in her pajamas and bathrobe. DICTATOR GOALS. The Wiz is from Omaha!? Dorothy and The Wiz are Omaha kin!? I’m completely not over the fact that Queen Latifah is live on my TV set in a robe. The Wiz is basically the best con artist success story ever told.
The Tinman’s heart is breaking because Dorothy is gonna leave, and now Tinthy just won the ship war. Dorothy is pulling some reverse psychology nonsense on the Wiz right now, and I’m convinced Dorothy is a world class manipulator to convince Queen Latifah to do anything.
Dorothy and The Wiz going on a air balloon adventure? Thelma and Louise 2015.
The Wiz leaving Oz is making all of those L’Oreal commercials she’s done real proud, because Queen Latifah’s hair is looking silky smooth. Queen Latifah truly has an undeniable stage presence. She may not be the best vocalist, but she sounds good! “Y’all got it!” Yes we do. Bye Queen Latifah. It truly was a pleasure watching you on my TV, you truly wonderful Goddess.
Oh my girl. Addaperle is back! Glinda just descended from the sky, truly like an angel. This yellow dress makes her look like a Christmas tree topper, but Uzo pulls it off because she is an icon. Uzo Aduba, though touted for her acting ability and rightfully, really has a great Broadway voice. She shows up in the last ten minutes and literally just put everyone to shame. So, so good — and I can not stop gushing.
“Believe in Yourself” as sung by Uzo just made me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. My god, that was amazing. Truly breathtaking.
I’m kind of getting teary-eyed with Dorothy saying goodbye to the Squad? I’m being reminded of when I moved out of my dorm at college and saying goodbye to all my friends. And now, she is all alone, but she is going home, and this is so bittersweet.
Shanice Williams at the ripe age of 19 did a great job overall. This is a hard production to carry on your shoulders, and she did wonderfully and sounded amazing to boot. This rendition of “Home” is A+. And since Dorothy had the magic in her, she gets back home!
Also, it took me all three hours to realize that Dorothy didn’t take Toto to Oz, and it’s probably because she didn’t want her dog to see her as a stone cold killer.
20 Must See Cast Reunions