Yesterday, NBC announced that its next live musical will be a Cirque du Soleil-inflected The Wiz, which will then travel to Broadway for the 2016-17 season. So who should be in the cast?
A legacy of splashy casting follows this show, thanks to the 1978 film version—which starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. And while you certainly could fill a cast with pop stars (cough Beyoncé cough cough), this dream cast is slightly more Broadway-inclined. (Given the fact that the musical will actually appear on the Great White Way after it debuts on NBC, it only makes sense.
Dorothy: Condola Rashad
Rashad, daughter of Phylicia, has mostly had success on Broadway in plays, not musicals; she starred opposite Orlando Bloom in the recent revival of Romeo and Juliet. But don’t think that she can’t sing: She can. And she’s great. Rashad is also a Smash veteran, which should endear her to The Wiz‘s executive producers, Smash EPs Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. She has also worked with Kenny Leon, who will be directing The Wiz, on the TV movie of Steel Magnolias and the Broadway production of Stick Fly. Per Broadway.com, Leon even once said of Rashad: “I want to do a musical and a couple more projects with her. She’s the most talented young person I know.”
Scarecrow: Jussie Smollett
Yesterday, when The Wiz was announced, Vulture wrote: “So now that the news is official, time to begin the campaign to get Jussie Smollett cast!” Sign us up for that campaign. Specifically: Cast the Empire star as the Scarecrow. NBC would certainly like some of those Empire ratings to transfer over to its production.
Tin Man: Joshua Henry
This is cheating a little, because Henry actually played the Tin Man in the 2009 Encores! production of The Wiz, which starred Ashanti. But Henry, a two-time Tony nominee, deserves a bigger platform. (Every time Joshua Henry sings, I cry.) Just listen to him take on “What Would I Do If I Could Feel.”
The Lion: Tituss Burgess
Two words: Pinot. Noir. We probably don’t need to say any more—but just watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to see why Burgess will be able to nail the Lion’s bravado and his cowardliness. Funny tidbit: In that Encores! production, James Monroe Iglehart, who plays Titus’s enemy on Kimmy Schmidt, played the Lion. Of course Iglehart, a Tony winner for Aladdin, would also be great.
Addaperle: Patina Miller
Cirque du Soleil is co-producing NBC’s The Wiz. Perhaps Miller, a Tony-winner for the circus-infused Pippin revival, has had enough of the big top—but she’d bring a certain magic (to do) as the other good witch of this show.
Evillene: Uzo Aduba
Though she’s best known for her work on Orange Is the New Black, Aduba’s crazy (see what I did there?) good pipes haven’t really gotten a chance to shine on the show. Aduba has tackled Broadway, and certainly has the frenetic energy to turn “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News” into the showstopper it should be. Plus, we have no doubt she could make Evillene terrifying.
Glinda: Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald was the saving grace of The Sound of Music Live!, and is basically the greatest asset any musical production can have. This is a no-brainer.
The Wiz: Jamie Foxx
NBC is going to want a big, movie star-level name for the role of The Wiz, so look no further than movie-musical veteran Jamie Foxx. If a Broadway star is in the cards, I vote for Brian Stokes Mitchell.