‘The Wiz’ is yellow brick gold



There’s no place like home, but when in college the next best bet is catching “The Wiz Live!”. And that’s just where I found myself Thursday night.

The past got rejuvenated with Harvey Fierstein’s modern twist on a fan favorite, and the new cast gave it the respect and class it deserves.

With support from a star-studded cast, Shanice Williams played Dorothy and did an excellent job imitating the characters’ sweet voice throughout. Other performances included Ne-Yo as Tin-Man, David Alan Grier as Cowardly Lion, Queen Latifah as The Wiz, Uzo Aduba as Glinda, and Mary J. Blige as Evillene. Common also made an appearance as the gruff bouncer who guarded the doors of Emerald City.

Though this new production closely followed the original Wiz, I hesitate to call it a remake. More than once a character would pull out an iPad to “check facts.”

The ensembles threw in dance moves that connected with younger viewers more than once, like the “nae nae” or  “hit the quan.” But the singing was even better.

Dorothy’s first song with the Good Witch of the North, Amber Riley, was fantastic. While Ne-Yo gave a jazzy performance and did not disappoint, likely facing high expectations for being a professional singer.

Major snaps to the directors for casting Queen Latifah as Oz. If it was the director’s plan to have her attached to no specific gender, I congratulate them. With the amount of slander and hate crimes toward the gay and transgender communities, this was necessary.

Of course, the single greatest moment was Oz’s speech once Dorothy and her crew found out Oz was fake. The group immediately became discouraged when they figured  out the Wiz couldn’t give them anything, but Oz assured them that their courage, brains and heart had been there all along.

This is the theme throughout every rendition of “The Wizard of Oz,” and I find it to be the most important. The Wiz teaches us that through hard times and long adventures, we find ourselves.

If you missed the show on Dec. 3, you can pre-order the DVD online on NBC’s website. Hulu subscribers can also stream it.