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Celebrity Takeover

Queen Latifah & Mary J. Blige Cast In NBC’s The Wiz Live

Drew Shade

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We are so glad they didn’t bring us “no bad news!” NBC, that is. Since they revealed the new live musical for this winter, everyone has been on pins and needles as NBC has slowly divulged the production team and the cast. Well, it seems we are one step closer in that process with two big names announced in major roles.

Executive producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron officially proclaimed that Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah & Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige will join the cast of The Wiz Live, set to air on NBC Dec. 3rd. Latifah will play The Wiz, a role originated on stage by the incomparable Andre De Shields (Ain’t Misbehavin, The Full Monty). Blige will portray the role of Evillene, the horrible wicked witch known for the upbeat “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” They join Stephanie Mills as Aunt Em, who was previously announced.

 

We’re still waiting on our main four; Dorothy, The Lion, The Scarecrow, and The Tin Man. However, this feels real good in our spirit, so we’ll take it. Tony Award winner Kenny Leon will direct & Fatima Robinson will choregraph, as previously announced. The show will also head to Broadway in 2016 with Leon directing. The Wiz for NBC will partner with Cirque du Soleil to bring the live and Broadway productions to life. The original book of the show was written by William F. Brown. This time around, Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein will add new material to the book.

“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 Bob Greenblatt. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, President and Managing Director of Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division. 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.”

“We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present ‘The Wiz,’” said Zeiger. “It’s a musical I have wanted to produce for years and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to not only produce this as our next live musical for NBC, but to then see it move to Broadway for a new generation to experience,” said Zadan. “It will be a joy to work again with Kenny Leon, who did Steel Magnolias and Raisin in the Sun with us,” added Meron.

Universal Television will produce. Casting for both the NBC telecast and Cirque du Soleil‘s Broadway production will be announced at a later date.

Tell us what you think about this casting in the comments below!

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

Celebrity Takeover

Tituss Burgess Has New Music, A New Movie, & No Time For Mess + The Preacher’s Wife Musical Update

Broadway Black

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Tituss Burgess' Saint Tituss EP cover
Tituss Burgess' Saint Tituss EP cover

On Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Tituss Burgess gave us an update on his musical adaptation of the 1996 movie, The Preacher’s Wife – starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. On the late-night talk show, a viewer called in to ask if there had been any updates regarding the show and Burgess shared that:

“ We are very close to signing with a hot-shot producer in New York, which means that the show is closer to appearing in London or here. But there’s also a recent development which could delay it for the better. You’ll find out about it later”

So not only do we know that the musical is still on its way to bless us, but there is an announcement about the show on the way! If you ask me, this is incredibly exciting. Tituss Burgess’ career has gone from stage to screen, and his abilities as an actor and singer are undeniable. Knowing that we are closer to seeing his skills as a musical theatre composer is mad exciting. Watch a clip from the interview above.

While we wait for The Preacher’s Wife Musical, listen to Burgess’ newly released EP Saint Tituss. Burgess sings his face off as he skillfully talks about issues that are personal and political — all while wrapping things up with a joyous celebration of resilience as positivity. He also has two songs that feature Daniel J. Watts including the single 45

St. Tituss is available on Spotify, apple music, and other streaming platforms.

He also has a new movie on the way. “Dolemite Is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy along with Burgess, Mike Epps, Chris Rock, & more will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. A national release date has not been set as of yet but is sure to be on its way.

 

While discussing the new movie during the same interview, Cohen asked Burgess about his relationship with Murphy. The way Cohen presented the question insinuates there might have been a problem between the two because of a ‘problematic past with the gays’ on Murphy’s part. The response given by Burgess is swift and loaded with “you tried it, but you won’t get me”:

“He wasn’t problematic for Tituss. We had a wonderful time. We talked about Dreamgirls and he should have won the Oscasr, I believe. He was great. Any troubles he may have had with gay people I guess are gone because he loved me.”

It is the following facial expression and the interaction that comes afterward that makes live television great. You can see Burgess say something to someone off-camera which leads Cohen to ask what he’s saying. Burgess replies with a soon-to-be iconic response to everything: “Keep going, girl. Do your show.”

and this is why we live.

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Amber Riley & MJ Rodriguez Will Star in Little Shop of Horrors

Drew Shade

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Amber Riley and Mj Rodriguez

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Olivier Award winner for her portrayal of Effie White in London’s West End production of DreamgirlsAmber Riley (Dreamgirls UK) and Pose star Mj Rodriguez will star in a reimagined production of Little Shop of Horrors at Pasadena Playhouse in California.

Riley will take on the iconic voice of Audrey II while Rodriguez will star as Audrey alongside George Salazar (Be More Chill) as Seymour.

The show will run from Sept. 17-Oct. 20 with an official opening set for Sept. 25.

Little Shop of Horrors is considered a classic. It’s a horror-comedy rock musical with music by Alan Menken and lyrics and a book by Howard Ashman. The story follows a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. It debuted Off-Broadway in 1982 and the movie version of 1986 introduced the world to young talents of Gina and Pam Tisha Campell and Tichina Arnold.

Directed by Mike Donahue, the design team includes scenic design by Dane Laffrey; costume design by Danae McQueen; lighting design by Josh Epstein; sound design by Veronika Vorel; and choreography and puppet design by Sean Cawelti.

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