The Yellow Brick Road will soon wind its way through NYC.
A reimagined production of The Wiz, a Tony Award-winning musical adapted from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, is heading to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023-24 season.
The Wiz takes the classic American story and “transforms it into an all-Black musical extravaganza for the ages,” according to a press release.
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If you haven’t seen it, The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975 (running for four years) and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Ted Ross), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Best Choreography (George Faison), and in a Broadway first, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design (Geoffrey Holder).
Its “Ease on Down the Road” was the show’s break-out single and “Home” has become a favorite, too. In 1978, major stars Diana Ross, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne, Quincy Jones’ and Michael Jackson created a film adaptation.
“I am thrilled my father’s music and The Wiz is returning to Broadway,” said Michael Smalls, son of The Wiz composer Charlie Smalls, in a statement. “I am so happy to know a new generation will be discovering these wonderful songs and learn of my father’s extraordinary talent.”
The Wiz will kick off its national tour in the Fall of 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland, where it first premiered back in 1974, and will take to Broadway in the Spring of 2024. The show is produced by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Brian Anthony Moreland, and Ambassador Theatre Group, featuring a book by William F. Brown and a Tony Award-winning score by Charlie Smalls (and others). Schele Williams will direct the show, which will have choreography by Jaquel Knight and additional material by Amber Ruffin, and music supervision, orchestrations, and music arrangements by Joseph Joubert. Casting will be announced in the near future.
“It is a dream come true to be a part of what I consider the epitome of Black excellence,” said choreographer Jaquel Knight in a statement. “There’s not one piece of art that has had influence on popular culture like The Wiz. I’m humbled to not only have the opportunity to leave my own mark on a true work of art, but to continue the storytelling and legacy building on the beauty of blackness through dance, movement, & attitude. I’m honored to stand on the backs of those greats who’ve opened this door, such as the Louis Johnson and George Faison; and I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to help show kids who look like me that the Theater is a world where they can see themselves.”