NBC has been really hit or miss with the live musicals – emphasis on the miss, Peter Pan Live! – but the peacock network really knocked it out of the park last night with The Wiz Live!.
I mean, it’s hard to fail when you have a bench this deep: Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier and OG Dorothy Stephanie Mills. But the entire production worked. And more importantly, it werqed.
Below, here are 10 things we learned from NBC’s The Wiz Live!.
The Emerald City is BURNING!
The voguing sequence really snatched all the Technicolor dream wigs and should be included in all future stagings of The Wiz.
Evillene will cut a bitch.
Dorothy and co. messed with the wrong witch when they took on the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. MJB camped it up and slayed “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” and almost literally slayed everyone with that switchblade.
David Alan Grier deserves all the awards.
As soon as David Alan Grier came on screen, The Wiz truly came to life. It’s called stage presence, it’s called a seasoned professional, it’s called throw an Emmy in his face.
The Tin Man may or may not be into fisting.
With all his talk of sliding oil to him and lubricating his mind, the Tin Man was sending out some suggestive signals.
Uzo Aduba really Audra McDonald’d it this year.
The Sound of Music Live was Audra McDonald’s world and everyone else was just hanging out in it. This time the talent was bursting from the seams, but Uzo still managed to steal the show when she urged Dorothy to
climb ev’ry mountainbelieve in herself.
Amber Riley won Glee.
I know Glee wasn’t a competition, in theory, but Riley really got shafted in the later seasons. Last night, there she was proving that she deserved more screen time/all the screen time by eating up every single minute she was allotted as Addaperle—hamming it up, schticking it out and belting her face off.
Dorothy’s plaid skirt was louder than Shanice Williams.
In an otherwise positive review, The New York Times referred to newcomer Shanice Williams as having a “medium-sized voice,” but come on, she was great. It’s entirely possible, though, that her “unflattering plaid skirt” may have just drowned out the 19-year-old ingenue.
The Wiz was serving butch king first time in drags in Oz.
Casting Queen La as the Wiz was a brilliant move, adding to the show’s already queer aesthetic.
We want Stephanie Mills to be our aunt, too.
The years have not diminished the diminutive diva’s larger-than-life voice and she came beautifully full circle playing Aunt Em some 40 years after she originated the role of Dorothy on Broadway.
The Poppies used to call the Wiz on his cell phone.
Bodysuited and bodyrolling, the Poppies were hotline bling-tastic.
A studio audience would have helped
After all those great musical numbers, The Wiz awkwardly transitioned to commercials without so much as a “go head, queen!” A studio audience would’ve made the experience more theatrical and have helped land some of those jokes.
The Wiz Live! was easily the best live musical NBC has done so far and should be the watermark for all other TV specials to come.
In a word, The Wiz Live! was:
Les Fabian Brathwaite—mean ole Cookie Lyon.