UPDATE: NBC has released footage showing a bit of Shanice Williams auditioning, as well as her reaction to learning that she’d gotten the part. You’ll also find a brief video interview with the actress/singer immediately following, with hosts of “The Today Show” (The original announcement of her casting follows underneath both videos):
It was in May when NBC has announced an open casting call for the lead role of Dorothy in the network’s upcoming holiday special “The Wiz Live!,” set to air on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Revealed this morning, just moments ago, on NBC’s “The Today Show,” newcomer Shanice Williams has been cast as Dorothy, beating out the competition. This could be the break of a lifetime for the actress/singer.
Williams joins David Alan Grier, who will play the Cowardly Lion; Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz; Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West; and Stephanie Mills (who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz”) will portray Auntie Em in NBC’s December production.
“The Wiz Live!” is adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 at the Majestic Theatre and won seven Tonys, including Best Musical.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“The Sound of Music Live!,” “Peter Pan Live!,” Oscar-winning “Chicago”) will executive produce. Kenny Leon (Tony winner, “A Raisin in the Sun”) is stage director and Matthew Diamond is TV director, with Harvey Fierstein (three-time Tony winner, “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Hairspray” and “La Cage aux Folles”) providing new written material.
Esteemed choreographer Fatima Robinson (“Dreamgirls,” “Ali”) is also on board, along with music producer Harvey Mason Jr. (“Dreamgirls, “Pitch Perfect 2”) and Stephen Oremus (“The Book of Mormon,” “Kinky Boots”) as music director, orchestrator and co-producer of the music.
“The Wiz Live!” is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.