The Wiz won. NBC has chosen its next live musical: The 1975 broadway hit that re-imagines The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with an all-black cast and a NYC-inspired Land of Oz.
The production will follow NBC’s hugely successful 2013 hit A Sound of Music Live and last year’s comparatively disappointing Peter Pan Live.
NBC previously revealed that two titles were under consideration: The Wiz and the 1957 hit The Music Man. But especially after the extraordinary performance of Fox’s hip-hop-themed drama Empire this season, The Wiz began to look like the obvious choice.
Unlike the previous productions, this time the network will partner with Cirque du Soleil, which will co-produce the event and then present it as a Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season. Once again, Craig Zaden and Neil Meron will executive produce the show. Director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival of The Wiz in collaboration with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.
“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” said NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. “Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”
Though Girls star Allison Williams as Peter Pan drew better reviews than Idol alum Carrie Underwood as Maria, Peter Pan Live paled in comparison when it came to the ratings. The three-hour musical drew 9.1 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, down 51 percent from Sound of Music, which brought in a whopping 18.5 million viewers and a 4.6, making it one of the network’s biggest Thursday nights since ER went off the air.
Casting will be announced at a later date. The Wiz will air Dec. 3 on NBC.