It always will begin with Stephanie Mills it seems. Mills, who was the original Dorothy in the Broadway production of The Wiz in 1975 and for the revival in 1984, has been cast to play Aunt Em in NBC’s live production of the musical, set to air on December 3, with big plans to bring it to Broadway in the 2016-17 season in association with Cirque du Soleil .
Today, according to multiple sources who attended the NBC Upfronts presentation and confirmed by executive producer Craig Zaden on twitter that Grammy Award winning Mills will not only join the cast but also that the role of Dorothy would be going to a newcomer! So that cancels out casting plans for some but we’re beyond ecstatic about this.
— Craig Zadan (@craigzadan) May 11, 2015
This is a full circle moment. One to take in with a deep breath and appreciate. This just feels right, it’s so appropriate and… respectful. It’s just… all-around lovely to hear and to think about. We’re excited and anxious to hear the rest of the casting. They’re definitely on the right path. We’re keeping the faith that it stays there.
The Wiz for NBC will partner with Cirque du Soleil to bring the live and Broadway productions to life. Tony Award winning director Kenny Leon will stage both productions. The original book of the show was written by William F. Brown. This time around, 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.
Watch Below As Stephanie Mills Sings Home from The Wiz on the Soul Train Awards 2014
Renee Elise Goldsberry Cast In HBOs “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”
Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry, who recently announced her departure from Hamilton this fall to film and star in new Netflix series Altered Carbon, is staying #booked. The actress was just cast in the title role to star opposite Oprah Winfrey in HBO Films The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Goldsberry will play Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (played by Winfrey), the film chronicles her search to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.
Based on Rebecca Skloot’s 2011 best-seller, veteran and favorite Broadway Black director-producer George C. Wolfe (Shuffle Along, Angels In America) wrote the adaptation and will direct.
Oprah Winfrey and Carla Gardini executive produce through Harpo Films and Skloot is co-executive producer.
Henrietta Lacks’ sons David Lacks, Jr. and Zakariyya Rahman; her granddaughter Jeri Lacks; and her grandchildren Alfred Carter Jr. and LaTonya Carter are consultants on the project as well.
I remember reading this book the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and being brought to tears because this woman’s life changed medicine forever and at the same time her family was struggling to afford health insurance. Grappling with the idea of what happens to your body, what people can do when you die was haunting me for years. It’s about time this story gets the screen adaption it deserves and we couldn’t be happier that Renee, Oprah, and George get to tell the story.
No premiere date has been announced yet, but keep following Broadway Black for the latest updates.
Savion Glover & Shuffle Along Cast Show Out On Maya & Marty!
Tony Award-winning choreographer Savion Glover and the Broadway cast of Shuffle Along made an appearance on the premiere of NBC’s brand new variety show “Maya & Marty” starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Maya Rudolph and Tony winner Martin Short, in their first live televised performance.
With suitcases in hand and accompanied by no music, the ensemble cast of thirteen closed the premiere with the “Pennsylvania Graveyard Shuffle,” midway through joined by Glover, the musical’s choreographer.
The six-episode series, taped from Studio 6A in NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in front of a studio audience, features a set of comedy sketches, celebrity guests, musical numbers, and a spectacular onstage band led by Charlie Rosen.
Among the other guests of the May 31st premiere were “SNL’s” Kenan Thompson, Tom Hanks, Larry David, with a performance by Miley Cyrus.
Based on the original 1921 musical revue, this new ten-time Tony-nominated production, billed as Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, is directed by George C. Wolfe.
This adaptation stars Tony winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Billy Porter, and focuses on the original composers’, Eubie Blake (played by Brandon Victor Dixon) and Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry), challenges in creating the production as well as their trials and tribulations in later years.
This year, Shuffle Along received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.
McDonald will take a maternity leave of absence at the end of July, and Rhiannon Giddens, in her first appearance on Broadway, will be her replacement in the role of Lottie Gee. Glover will also join the cast during Giddens’ run.
Glover recently appeared on NBC’s “Late Night: Seth Meyers.”
“Maya & Marty” is a spin-off of Rudolph’s original variety show pilot, “The Maya Rudolph Show” which aired in 2014, but wasn’t picked up for a series.
“Maya & Marty” airs Tuesdays at 10 PM ET on NBC.
For tickets to Shuffle Along.
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