She will join the previously announced Grammy-winning singing stars Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige in the cast of the Tony-winning musical, based on the Wizard of Oz stories. Latifah, who starred in the Oscar-winning film of "Chicago" and the screen return of "Hairspray," will star as The Wiz, with Blige to play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West. They join original Broadway star Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original production, and will play Auntie Em in the TV adaptation.
BuzzFeed reported Aug. 4 that Tony nominee David Alan Grier had landed the role of the Cowardly Lion. He's a veteran of the show, haveing played the role of The Wiz in La Jolla Playhouse's 2006 production, directed by Des McAnuff.
Us Weekly magazine previously reported that Beyoncé may be in talks to play Glinda the Good Witch. No further details were reported. Beyoncé previously worked with Wiz choreographer Fatima Robinson on the film adaptation of Dreamgirls. Robinson also choreographed Blige's "Family Affair" video.
William F. Brown wrote the book for the soulful contemporary retelling of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The Wiz also features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The original 1974 production, directed by Geoffrey Holder and choreographed by George Faison, won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. The premiere Broadway company featured Hinton Battle, Tiger Haynes, Stephanie Mills, Ted Ross, Dee Dee Bridgewater, André De Shields and Mabel King. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starred in the film version.
The musical, according to NBC, is described as such: "Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and relocated to a fantasy world that is inhabited by munchkins, good and bad witches, and, of course, flying monkeys. She eventually takes a path down a yellow brick road to find a wizard who can help her go home and along the way meets a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, who all learn to help one another."