1. Shanice Williams
So it goes without saying that you'll definitely want to look out for the actress playing the lead role, but that goes double with The Wiz Live!; newcomer Shanice Williams, chosen from an open call, made quite the professional debut last night as Dorothy. She showed that she's got exceptional pipes, excellent dance skills and acting chops as well! If you want to see the best examples of this, take a look at her breathtaking performances of "Be a Lion" and "Home."
She also gave one last night's best moments of eye acting in the middle of "Soon As I Get Home."
2. Stephanie Mills
From Dorothy to the original, we also have to talk about Stephanie Mills, The Wiz's first Dorothy on Broadway in 1975 and last night's Aunt Em. With the first song of the evening, "The Feeling We Once Had," Mills kicked the evening off with quite a punch. Her voice sounded every bit as powerful as it did 40 years ago, and her scene work, partially thanks to some new plot points from adaptor Harvey Fierstein to play with, was powerful.
3. Elijah Kelly's Acrobatics
Everyone realizes that Elijah Kelly was flipping around like that without the assistance of Cirque Du Soleil wires or the winged warrior's vaulted stilts, right? Check out his moves in "You Can't Win" and while you're there, note that he sings beautifully right after flipping around like that.
4. Ne-Yo Singing "Slide Some Oil To Me"
Traditionally in The Wiz, "Slide Some Oil To Me" is a comedy dance number—not usually a stand-out amongst the evenings songs—but in Ne-Yo's unbelievably talented hands it was elevated into a smooth, sexy and very memorable performance. It was a fitting introduction for what was in totality a fantastic performance.
5. David Alan Grier's Snarl
Going into commercial break with this snarl from David Alan Grier's Cowardly Lion was an inspired choice. Look for it right after the group faces the poppies.
6. The Emerald City
All of Fatima Robinson's choreography was on point, but the best example of that would probably be the Emerald City sequence which featured a bevy of dancers vogueing for their lives. Sleek, sophisticated and sexy. Fans of The Wiz's original stage production will also recognize that arranger Stephen Oremus worked in some of Timothy Graphenreed and George Faison's original dance music into this new number—Listen for it when the dancers dance in a circle around the four friends about half-way through the number.
7. Queen Latifah's Androgynous Wiz
It's no surprise that Queen Latifah was a welcome addition to the already-fantastic cast of The Wiz Live!, but her casting in a traditionally male role (memorably originated by André De Shields) and androgynous costuming were fantastically unexpected! Naturally, Latifah was as fantastic in the role as she was in the movies of Chicago and Hairspray. The unique casting decision also allowed for a wonderful moment of feminism, as Dorothy redresses Ne-Yo's Tin Man for being seemingly upset when it turns out that The Wiz is a woman.
8. Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba is best known these days for her two-time Emmy Award-winning performance as "Crazy Eyes" in Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," but from the moment she entered from the sky in Paul Tazewell's jaw-droppingly gorgeous yellow gown as Glinda last night, she made it clear she was going to be one of The Wiz Live! many highlights. Her Glinda was warm, motherly and powerful; she delivers a stirring performance of the show's eleven o'clock number, "If You Believe." Fans of The Wiz on stage can also listen for a snippet of "A Rested Body Is a Rested Mind," cut from this version of the show, but used as Glinda's entrance music.