"I want to do Broadway, for sure," she tells Playbill.com at the Wiz's press junket, held in anticipation of the NBC broadcast Dec. 3. "I definitely want to do Broadway. That's always been on my bucket list. That's always been something that I've wanted to do."
But, what's the hope if she could handpick any role in the musical theatre cannon? "If they revive Dreamgirls, I would love to do Dreamgirls," she says. "That's like a dream role of mine."
Riley performed Effie White's numbers from the hit musical twice on "Glee," including the fight sequence "It's All Over" and the show-stopping Act I finale "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."
"I'm a YouTube fanatic," she admits, "so I've probably seen every performance Jennifer Holliday has done of 'And I Am Telling You' on my YouTube."
"That was your audition song," reveals Stephanie Mills, The Wiz's original Dorothy and the live production's Auntie Em. It's true. That number (the famous torch song, performed by Holliday, Jennifer Hudson — currently making her Broadway debut in The Color Purple — and Whitney Houston, among many others) got Riley cast in The Wiz, in which she plays Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. "And…she's so delicious as Addaperle," Mills adds. "She's so funny!"
She's excited, too. When asked about what nerves her about the Dec. 3 live broadcast, Riley replies, "I'm more excited. You know what I am nervous about though? My wig! If that thing flies off… There's nothing I could really do about it. It just is what it is."
Riley explains that the costume (both big and blue, she says) comes with two wigs. One goes on her head and the other — a hat made out of hair — goes on top.
On Dec. 3, Riley says that all of her family will be watching. "The fact that my mom has seen [The Wiz] and that [it] was her first Broadway show, and then I saw it — but I saw the movie — and now my niece, who is four, is going to be able to watch it… Anything that can withstand generations has to be amazing," she says. "There's something special about it, and I really wanted to be a part of that."
Playbill.com features manager Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.