NBC is wasting no time finalizing the casting jobs for this holiday season’s The Wiz Live! David Alan Grier was just named as the Cowardly Lion and 18-year-old Shanice Williams has just been handpicked to serve as the show’s maraschino cherry by playing lead character, Dorothy.
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Rising star Shanice Williams, an 18-year-old New Jersey native who has been raised and trained in musical theater, is the new Dorothy in NBC’s upcoming holiday production of “The Wiz Live!,” set for Thursday, Dec. 3.
Williams was selected out of hundreds of applicants nationwide who had auditioned to portray the iconic role of a Kansas farm girl who gets swept up in a tornado and is sent to the mysterious land of Oz.
With five years of musical training that also includes extensive dance and piano, Williams has co-starred in several local productions, including “West Side Story,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “42nd Street,” “Seussical” and “Pippin.”
Last year Williams was nominated for best leading actress in a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse’s annual Rising Star Awards.
NBC recently raised the project’s star quotient in a big way by adding multi-award winners and A-list stars Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige to the telecast.
Queen Latifah stars as the Wiz, the mysterious and powerful wizard who holds the keys to the Emerald City, but whose metamorphosis from ordinary to extraordinary is itself a hoax. She rose to her lofty position after being transported by accident to Oz in a hot air balloon during a snowstorm.
Mary J. Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who holds sway over the Winkies and the Winged Monkeys that do her bidding. She captures Dorothy and her friends to avenge the unintentional murder of her evil sister, Evvamean, and to get back the powerful silver slippers given to Dorothy by the Good Witch of the North.
Stephanie Mills was previously announced to portray Auntie Em in “The Wiz Live!” Mills is best known to many for playing Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz.”
“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.
All we need now is for Usher to don that Scarecrow costume and this presentation will be as golden as the Yellow Brick Road.