Shanice Williams, a 19-year-old actress from New Jersey, was picked from hundreds of girls to star as Dorothy for the 2015 musical event. Williams started singing in her church choir at a young age and was cast in a production of The Wiz in seventh grade (she played Addaperle, although her grandmother encouraged her to audition for Dorothy). Get to know more about the actress here in her first-ever interview with Playbill.com.
Williams is joined by Stephanie Mills (The Wiz's original Dorothy) as Auntie Em, Queen Latifah as The Wiz, Mary J. Blige as Evillene, David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Amber Riley as Addaperle, Elijah Kelley as the Scarecrow, Ne-Yo as the Tin Man and Common as the Bouncer.
Rounding out the cast are Chris Borrero, James Brown III, Olutayo Bosede, Elon Van Buckley, Ta'Rea Campbell, Jessica Castro, Kacie Garland, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Frankie Gordils, Khadija Griffith, Tre Holloway, Antonio Hudnell, Carlos Irizarry, Marcus Paul James, Frederic Jean, Capathia Jenkins, Mykal Kilgore, Tamika Lawrence, India R. McGee, Maurice Murphy, Antonio Moore, Danielle Polanco, Malaiyka Reid, Eric Sanchez, Sherisse Springer, Chris Silcox, Ahmahd Thomas, Raphael Thomas, Alex Wade, Donald Webber, DaShaun Wesley, Xavier Wilcher and NaTasha Williams.
For this production, the musical has been retooled by Broadway actor and writer Harvey Fierstein, who admitted to taking issue with certain plot points in "The Wizard of Oz." Along with director Kenny Leon (who enlisted Fierstein specifically for the project), the two restructured the piece to include a new song that's to function as an "Act I finale," backstory for Oz's characters and Winged Warriors (performed by Cirque du Soleil acrobats).
First Look Inside Dress Rehearsal for The Wiz Live!
This re-envisioning of The Wiz is co-produced with Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, which is also set to be part of the 2016-17 Broadway remounting. (When the show was announced for NBC, it was also announced that a major revival was planned for Broadway in the 2016-17 season.)
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Oscar-winning "Chicago" and "Hairspray," The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!) are executive producers of The Wiz Live! Leon (Tony Award-winning A Raisin in the Sun, Fences) directs with live television direction by Matthew Diamond ("So You Think You Can Dance," Oscar-nominated "Dancemaker," Emmy Award-winning "Shining Time Station"). Fatima Robinson ("The Voice," "Dreamgirls" film, "VH1 Hip Hop Honors") choreographs.
The Wiz Live! is based on The Wiz, featuring a book Brown and music and lyrics by Smalls. It was produced on the New York stage by Ken Harper.