Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and Common have joined the ever-growing cast of NBC’s The Wiz Live, the network announced at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour.
Singer-songwriter-actor Ne-Yo will play the Tin Man, who was once a flesh-and-blood woodsman, but a spell put on him by the Wicked Witch causes him to lose his limbs and heart. He learns that he’s never lost the ability to feel.
Kelley (Hairspray) will play the Scarecrow, the first of the three friends to meet Dorothy (and a person who has always dreamed of having brains, but never realized that he’s the smartest of them all).
Oscar winner Common will play the Bouncer, the gatekeeper of the entrance to Emerald City who is out to get what he can from Dorothy and her three friends. NBC boss Bob Greenblatt described the gatekeeper as a “non-singing comedic role.”
The trio join the previously cast Queen Latifah (the Wiz), Mary J. Blige (Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West), David Alan Grier (Cowardly Lion), Uzo Aduba (Glinda, the Good Witch of the South), Amber Riley (Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North), Shanice Williams (Dorothy) and Stephanie Mills (Auntie Em).
The Wiz Live! is executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — who also made NBC’s previously high-wire musical telecasts, 2013’s The Sound of Music Live! and last year’s Peter Pan Live! The Wiz Live! is directed by Kenny Leon with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material, and it also marks the first NBC musical to made with Cirque Du Soleil, whose acrobats will be used in certain scenes (such as the tornado and flying monkeys).
The Wiz premieres Thursday, Dec. 3 on NBC.