Three-time Tony Award nominee David Alan Grier is joining NBC’s The Wiz Live! The network announced on Tuesday that the actor and musician has been cast as the Cowardly Lion in December’s live telecast.
Grier’s stage credits include the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls; The First, in which he played Jackie Robinson; Race, in which he starred opposite James Spader, Kerry Washington and Richard Thomas; and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which earned him both a Tony and Grammy nomination.
He also has a host of television credits including In Living Color, Martin, Happy Endings, Law & Order: SVU and NBC’s upcoming The Carmichael Show, set to premiere later this month. His film credits include A Soldier’s Story, Jumanji, and The Woodsman.
The news comes shortly after Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige joined the cast. Queen Latifah will play the titular wizard, who found herself in Oz only by accident after she got caught in a snowstorm during a hot air balloon ride. Blige will play Evillene, more widely known as the Wicked Witch of the West. As in the original 1939 film starring Judy Garland, the witch is out to avenge the death of her sister.
Stephanie Mills, who portrayed Dorothy in the original Broadway production of The Wiz, will play Auntie Em in NBC’s telecast, which airs Thursday, Dec. 3. Back in May, NBC announced an open casting call for Dorothy.
The Wiz Live! is an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Wiz originally opened on Broadway in 1975 and went on to win seven Tonys.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo behind The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live!, will executive produce The Wiz Live!, while Kenny Leon will direct.