The Wiz is ready to ease on down the road once again as a brand new Broadway-bound touring revival of the 1975 musical launches from Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre September 23. Schele Williams is at the helm of the new production with choreography by JaQuel Knight.
Leading the cast as Dorothy is newcomer Nichelle Lewis, opposite Grammy nominee and Broadway alum Deborah Cox as Glinda, Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene (The Wiz's Wicked Witch of the West), Kyle Ramar Freeman (A Strange Loop) as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson (Sharper) as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson (The Voice) as the Scarecrow. Wayne Brady will star in the title role for select stops on the tour and the Broadway run, with Kinky Boots' Alan Mingo Jr. handling the role for the rest of the tour.
The ensemble includes Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, Michael Samarie George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson, Olivia Jackson, Christina Jones, Polanco Jones, Kolby Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Cristina Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, and Keenan D. Washington.
The production also features an A-list group of producers, led by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Brian Anthony Moreland, and Ambassador Theatre Group while also including Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker, Common, MC Lyte, Deborah Cox, and Lascelles Stephens.
Williams is leading a creative team that also includes 2023 Tony Award nominee Amber Ruffin, who has penned additional material. The gig is Ruffin's second theatrical outing, following her work co-writing the Tony-nominated book to Broadway's current Some Like It Hot with Matthew López. Joseph Joubert is providing music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements, with dance arrangements by Adam Blackstone, scenic design by Hannah Beachler, costume design by Sharen Davis, lighting design by Ryan J. O'Gara, projection designer Daniel Brodie, sound design by Jon Weston, and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting.
The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975, transforming L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel into an all-Black "super soul musical," as it was originally billed. A surprise hit of the season, the musical won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Score, Featured Actor in a Musical (Ted Ross), Featured Actress in a Musical (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Choreography (George Faison), and Direction of a Musical and Costume Design (both Geoffrey Holder). The score's "Ease On Down the Road" and "Home" became breakout hits, and original star Stephanie Mills was propelled into stardom. The musical made the jump to the big screen in 1978 with a film adaptation starring Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, and, reprising his Broadway performance as the Cowardly Lion, Ross.
The musical got the live TV treatment via NBC in 2015, a production that was initially announced as being Broadway bound following the television premiere. That revival, which would have been produced by Neil Meron and the late Craig Zadan, never materialized.
Also producing are Elizabeth Armstrong, James L. Nederlander, Hudson/Mann, Cody Lassen/Matthew D’Arrigo, Independent Presenters Network, Amanda DuBois Productions/Ari Edelson, Dori Berinstein, Spencer Ross/Stephanie Cowan, Terry Schnuck/Gabrielle Palitz, Pippa Lambert/Alissa Norby, Gina Vernaci, Patty Baker, Marlene & Gary Cohen, Concord Theatricals, The Fabulous Invalid, Fakston Productions, Brian & Nick Ginsberg, Gabrielle Glore, Grove Entertainment, Haffner-Wright Theatricals, House Woods Productions, John Gore Organization, Kawana Entertainment, Willette Klausner, MMC Productions, Lamar Richardson, Runyonland Productions, Erica Lynn Schwartz, The Shubert Organization, Lu-Shawn Thompson, Lana Williams-Woods, The Araca Group, Blakeman-Robinson Entm’t/Ricardo Marques, Robert Tichio/Score 3, Best Yet Entertainment/Branden Grimmett, Dkim Caldwell/Mickalene Thomas, DMQR Productions, Jason Turchin, Epic Theatricals/Jeffrey Grove, Joel Glassman/Westin Hicks, Jamrock Productions/Sonya Houston, Sally Johnston/Ann Scott, Judith Manocherian/Theatre Nerd Productions, and Alan Seales/Gonzalez-Leiba Jr.
For a full itinerary, visit WizMusical.com.