Well, NBC broke the internet yesterday with the announcement that their next live musical will air on December 3rd with a production of The Wiz. It was rumored that the production was suppose to be a live version of The Music Man but that has been put to sleep with this breaking news. As soon as we heard we could not contain ourselves. Us, along with the rest of the twitter-verse, began to go up in arms.
BREAKING NEWS: THE WIZ is confirmed as the new live NBC musical Dec 3rd. Plans for Broadway attached! pic.twitter.com/7Pe2zu8R2c
— Broadway Black (@BroadwayBlack) March 30, 2015
According to Deadline:
NBC has partnered with Cirque du Soleil to co-produce the live event. It will then become a Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season.Once again Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will exec produce. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival, in collaboration with Tony winner and Broadway icon Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.
Little did we know, the announcement was only the beginning. The excitement quickly turned to anticaption and axiety of who will be cast in this live production directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon. Everyone had their own ideas and must haves in that list. Some of which included Janelle Monae, Jennifer Hudson, LaChanze, Audra McDonald, Tittuss Burgess, & Billy Porter, just to name a few.
— THE ARCHER (@JUPITERMOVESME) March 30, 2015
— tommy santelli (@tommysantelli) March 30, 2015
@BroadwayBlack Billy Porter as Scarecrow….Tichina Arnold as Evilene…..Anika Noni Rose as Dorothy….Audra McDonald as Glinda
— JZA_Nicole (@Jaleesa_Nicole) March 30, 2015
— So FloYork (@iTerryTommy) March 30, 2015
Everyone had their own version they thought worked best but, if you didnt get a chance to create your own, there is still time! Tell us your dream cast for NBC’s live version. It’s fun to imagine but we’re pretty sure we don’t have anything to worry about. Kenny Leon told us himself
And just for good measure:
— Carmen Ruby (@CarmenRubyFloyd) March 30, 2015
PSA: The Musical Version of The Wiz and the movie version of The Wiz ARE NOT THE SAME. Prepare yourself and cast accordingly
The Wiz is adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Subsequently, Baum’s book was adapted as a stage musical with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The adaptation, which featured an all-black cast, debuted in October, 1974 at the Morris Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore. Starring Stephanie Mills as Dorthoy. It moved to Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on January, 1975, where it ran for four years and won seven Tonys, including best musical.
The Public Theater Will Present Hercules Musical & Hercules Is Black!
We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. Back in 2017, we reported that a musical adaptation of the Disney movie Hercules would be headed to Broadway. Now we can confirm that is somewhat true.
Hercules will be the latest Disney musical to be made for the stage and will play Off-Broadway at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park. As the final show of the Shakespeare in the Park season theater season performances will run August 31 through September 8 with a reading set to take place in April.
The role of Hercules will be played by a Black actor, according to the casting notice
The musical will include the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance, along with other songs from the 1997 animated film by Alan Menken & David Zippel. Presented through an arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the show will be directed by Lear deBessonet. The creative team also includes a book by Kristoffer Diaz, & choreography by Chase Brock.
Before Hercules, Kenny Leon will direct the Much Ado About Nothing May 21 through June 23 to begin the Shakespeare in the Park season.
Casting for all both productions will be announced at a later date
Lynn Nottage Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Tony Award nominated play Sweat ended its Broadway run at Studio 54 on June 25. We weren’t ready to say goodbye to Sweat, and we’re definitely not ready to say goodbye to Lynn Nottage, leaving us to wonder what’s next for the two-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright?
First, if you didn’t get a chance to see Sweat on Broadway or if you did but can’t get one of the poorest cities in America off your heart and mind, then you’ll want to visit Reading, Pennsylvania this summer. Shortly after finishing Sweat, Nottage came up with the idea for a site-specific performance installation honoring the people of Reading. Nottage shared that for a city divided by economical and racial politics, she wanted to highlight the city’s potential to use art and culture to bring its citizens together. The installation titled This is Reading will weave “individual stories into one cohesive and compelling tale of the city. Exploring the various viewpoints of the diverse community, [and] give the audience a vibrant and unique perspective of the city of Reading.” The installation will utilize live performance, visual media, and film. Located at Franklin Street Station, Reading PA, This is Reading will run July 14-16, July 21-23 and July 28-30.
What could possibly be next for Nottage? A musical of course!
Not just any musical, but an adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees. Book by Nottage, music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam) and direction by Sam Gold (Fun Home).
Nottage’s first musical follows the story of Lilly Owens, a white teen growing up in 1960’s South Carolina and her Black caretaker Rosaleen. After Rosaleen is hospitalized following an attempt to vote, she and Lily do their best to escape the harsh realities of their respective lives in the Jim Crow South, and happen upon a bee farm. “It sang to me” Nottage said of adapting Kidd’s book to a musical, “Every page I saw a song.”
The Secret Life of Bees will be presented as a workshop production at the Powerhouse Theater from July 27-29, apart of the New York Stage and Film’s 2017 season.
Finally, for the 2017/2018 season, Nottage’s play Mlima’s Tale will make it’s world premiere at The Public Theater and run from March 27 through May 20, 2018. Mlima’s Tale follows the story of Mlima, an african elephant caught between freedom and the
international ivory black market. Ultimately a story about trade itself, “Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all.” Next season, The Public will celebrate 50 years at its Astor Place location, and Lynn Nottage will be the only Black playwright with work presented.
From a site-specific performance installation, to her first musical, ending with another show at The Public Theater… Lynn Nottage has given us a lot to look forward to following her Broadway debut, and we will be ready. Sitting front and center.
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