Get to Know the Cast of The Wiz Live! (So Far) With Our Favorite Pictures and Videos

News   Get to Know the Cast of The Wiz Live! (So Far) With Our Favorite Pictures and Videos
 
A live television adaptation of The Wiz will hit NBC this December, and a star-studded cast is taking shape. Get to know the confirmed cast members (so far), and check out some of their most famous performances below!

In addition to the below stars, NBC's Dec. 3 live broadcast is also slated to feature Oscar-winning hip-hop artist Common, singer/songwriter Ne-Yo and "Hairspray" actor Elijah Kelley, but details of their roles in the show have yet to be announced.

Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are behind the NBC special event, which will be helmed by Tony winner Kenny Leon and feature a fresh book adaptation by Harvey Fierstein.

Here are the show's stars!

Shanice Williams (Dorothy)

Shanice Williams
Shanice Williams

Williams, a newcomer from New Jersey, was chosen from hundreds of girls for the headlining role of Dorothy in the NBC live musical event. A year ago, the 19-year-old actress was getting ready to attend a performing arts college in Los Angeles. She attended Rahway High School, and she was a Paper Mill Playhouse "Rising Star" nominee. (Watch her sing with their Broadway Show Choir here!) Williams has actually performed in The Wiz before — she was cast as Addaperle in her middle school production (although her grandmother encouraged her to audition for Dorothy) — and she admits to having been a big fan of the movie and the soundtrack. She went to the Lincoln Center archives to see the original Broadway production starring Stephanie Mills, who now plays Auntie Em in the live NBC special. "I'm somewhere over the rainbow right now!" she told Playbill.com in her very first interview moment after the casting announcement was made. Watch her audition video below!

Queen Latifah (The Wiz)

Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah is also a New Jersey native, born in Newark before growing up in East Orange. Although she has never been on Broadway, Latifah has starred in the big-screen adaptations of the hit musicals Chicago and Hairspray, playing Matron "Mama" Morton and "Motormouth" Maybelle, respectively. For "Chicago," she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. She has also earned a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations and two Emmy Award nominations. Aside from singing and performing, Latifah is also a model, television producer, record producer, comedienne and talk-show host of "The Queen Latifah Show." She is the first female to take on the title role in The Wiz in a major production. Check out her musical theatre-film crossover work below!

Mary J. Blige (Evillene)
Mary J. Blige has also been seen in a major film adaptation of a Broadway musical — she played Justice in "Rock of Ages," singing 80s hits such as "Harden My Heart," "Any Way You Want It" and "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Blige, known for her work in hip-hop and R&B as well as her collaborations with artists such as U2, Sam Smith, Ludacris, Wyclef Jean and others, received nine Grammy Awards. In total, she has received 30 Grammy nominations. She also starred in the 2009 Tyler Perry film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her musical contribution to the film "The Help." Some of her most notable songs include "Real Love," "Be Without You," "Family Affair" and "Take Me As I Am." Check out her performance in "Rock of Ages" and her recent hit with Sam Smith below.

David Alan Grier (Cowardly Lion)

David Alan Grier
David Alan Grier Photo by Michael J. Lutch

David Alan Grier has been nominated for three Tony Awards — for his performances as Jackie Robinson in The First, Henry Brown in Race and Sporting Life in Porgy and Bess. With The Wiz, he takes on a new role this time around; he previously played the title role in La Jolla Playhouse's 2006 production, directed by Des McAnuff. The actor, who also starred on Broadway as James Thunder Early in Dreamgirls and as Prologus and Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, is also a comedian and known for his work on the sketch comedy television show "In Living Color." Check out Grier's standup at the Apollo and some of his best moments on "In Living Color" below.

Uzo Aduba (Glinda)
Before Uzo Aduba won an Emmy Award for her role as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black," she was preaching the parables in the Broadway revival of Godspell. The actress, who made her Broadway debut as Toby in Coram Boy, brought down the house at this year's Miscast gala and last year's Broadway Backwards fundraiser. Check out her gender-bending performances of "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd (alongside "Pitch Perfect" and Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt) and "Lily's Eyes" from The Secret Garden (alongside Pippin star Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Platt's mother in Dear Evan Hansen).

Amber Riley (Addaperle)

Amber Riley
Amber Riley

Best known as Mercedes Jones on the Fox hit series "Glee," Amber Riley is also the winner of the 17th season of "Dancing With the Stars," where she was partnered with Derek Hough. She was a headliner of Cotton Club Parade, the 1920s musical revue that played New York City Center before transferring to Broadway and retitled After Midnight. On "Glee," she played the headstrong Mercedes, who was often given belty showstoppers such as "Respect," "(And I Am Telling You) I'm Not Going," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Spotlight," "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and "I Will Always Love You." Watch her sing "Lady Marmalade" alongside Patti LaBelle and Lil' Kim on "DWTS" and "I Will Always Love You" on "Glee."

Stephanie Mills (Auntie Em)

Stephanie Mills is known for creating the role of Dorothy in the 1975 Broadway production of The Wiz; she was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for her performance and revived the role when The Wiz came back to Broadway in 1984. "Home" became her signature song, and she later returned to Broadway with Stephanie Mills Comes "Home" to Broadway in 1989 at the Brooks Atkinson. She also starred as Eve/Mama Noah in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden, singing "Spark of Creation" and "Ain't It Good?" Watch "Home" and listen to "Spark of Creation" below.

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