Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley Join NBC's The Wiz

News   Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley Join NBC's The Wiz
"Orange Is the New Black" Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba and "Glee" star Amber Riley are the latest actors announced to join NBC's Dec. 3 live broadcast of the Tony Award-winning musical The Wiz.

Uzo Aduba
Uzo Aduba

Aduba, also seen on Broadway in Godspell, will play Glinda, with Riley slated to play Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North. Their casting follows the Aug. 5 announcement that Shanice Williams, an 18-year-old newcomer from New Jersey, will star as Dorothy.

Previous reports stated that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron had been courting Beyoncé to star as Glinda.

"We are so happy to welcome two actors we’ve admired and wanted so much to work with," Zadan and Meron said in a statement. "We look forward to showcasing the amazing musical talents of Amber and we are eager to introduce Uzo’s remarkable singing voice for those who know her solely as an extraordinary dramatic actress."

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The impressive lineup for the live television event also includes original Broadway star Stephanie Mills as Auntie Em, Queen Latifah as The Wiz, Mary J. Blige as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West and David Alan Grier as The Cowardly Lion.

Amber Riley
Amber Riley

Kenny Leon is directing The Wiz, with Harvey Fierstein adapting the book for TV. This latest incarnation of The Wiz is also on track for a full-scale Broadway revival.

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."

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