Wiz Live! Producers Comment on Possibility of Studio Audience and Reveal More About Broadway Transfer

News   Wiz Live! Producers Comment on Possibility of Studio Audience and Reveal More About Broadway Transfer
In a follow-up interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who were behind NBC's acclaimed The Wiz Live! broadcast Dec. 3, revealed more about the much-talked-about Broadway transfer and why there will never be a studio audience for the annual live television event.

"Every person that was in the show last night has been invited to come to Broadway. It's a matter of if they want to and how much time they can give us," Zadan told THR. Of newcomer Shanice Williams, who has received glowing reviews, Meron said they would bring her back "in a heartbeat."

"We'd love for her to be on Broadway in The Wiz but that's to be worked out," he said.

"Right now the plan is to have The Wiz on Broadway a year from now in partnership with Cirque. The entire cast of The Wiz Live knows about the Broadway plans but we didn't make it a prerequisite when casting them. But over the past couple of weeks, a lot of members of the cast have been sniffing around doing it in the theater," continued Meron. The production is co-produced with Cirque du Soleil Theatrical.

With increasing talk among viewers about the need for a live studio audience, the duo said that they stand by their decision not to have one. "We still would like to honor the tradition where this genre was given birth and that's in the '50's," commented Meron. "We know that it's taken a while for the audience to get used to it, but in the three years we've been doing it, there's always a cry for live audience but that's not [that] special. What's special is [to] do these on a soundstage and live in the moment without that audience and to allow cameras to come in and get up close and personal and have the audience at home be the live audience."

NBC's third annual live television event brought to life the Tony-winning Broadway musical The Wiz with a cast that featured Stephanie Mills, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, Common and 19-year-old Williams. "I'm Somewhere Over the Rainbow Right Now!" — The First Interview With The Wiz's Dorothy 

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The producers commented on the significant ratings increase this year, attributing a lot of the success to the major support from the black community. "People like Tyler Perry and others said The Wiz is [a] cultural phenomenon for the black community and wanted it to succeed, and everybody rallied to make sure there was an audience who watched it," said Zadan.

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THR also asked Meron and Zadan about which titles they were considering for the next live event, to which they replied that nothing was yet set in stone, though many options were being discussed. "We have tossed many titles around and batted them around with NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt but we haven't settled on what's next," said Meron.

"Since we changed the playing field for ourselves this year in the way we did everything — and the whole technique of doing the show is different — we set out on a path that has changed the way we do them," added Zadan. "That's going to inform what the next show is going to be. We don't want to go back to the way we did Peter Pan or The Sound of Music; we want to keep moving forward." Read the full interview here

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