The Wiz to Get New Broadway Revival in 2004; McAnuff to Direct

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09 Apr 2003

The Wiz, the 1975 musical which retold L. Frank Baum's classic fairy tale "The Wizard of Oz" with an African-American cast and a rhythm-and-blues-flavored score, will get a major Broadway revival during the 2003-04 season.



Dodger Theatricals will produce the production, with Des McAnuff directing, said Susan Gurman, who represents the William F. Brown (book) Charlie Smalls (music and lyrics) property. The show will debut on Broadway in spring 2004, eschewing pre-New York tryouts.

McAnuff, who directed The Who's Tommy and How to Succeed... on Broadway, plans an environmental production, which will lend the entire theatre an Oz-like atmosphere. A post-Broadway tour is projected.

The Wiz opened at the Majestic Theatre on Jan. 5, 1975. Lukewarm reviews almost closed it immediately afterwards, but producer Ken Harper convinced investor 20th Century Fox to sink money into a television advertising campaign. The TV spot, as well as positive word of mouth, quickly turned the show into a hit which would run for 1,672 performances. It won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Musical and made a star out of its Dorothy, Stephanie Mills.

Also in the cast were Hinton Battle as the Scarecrow, Tiger Haynes as the Tin Man, Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion, Andre De Shields as the Wizard, Mabel King as Evilline, Dee Dee Bridgewater as Glinda and a young Phylicia Rashad as a munchkin. Ross and Bridgewater won Tonys, as did director Geoffrey Holder, choreographer George Faison and composer-lyricist Charlie Smalls. Among the songs to work their way into the public consciousness were "Ease on Down the Road" and "Home."

Touring revivals of the show came to Broadway in 1984 and 1993.