NBC’s next live television production will be an update of hit Broadway musical The Wiz, debuting December 3, but this time the network 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.
“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said in today’s announcement, calling the Broadway development “a natural next step for our live musical events.”
Cirque du Soleil’s new theatrical division president and managing director Scott Zeiger, in today’s announcement, called Wiz, a re-imagining of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, “a musical I have wanted to produce for years and it’s the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner.”
Last May, Greenblatt said the network was planning a Music Man production as its next live musical from The Sound of Music and Peter Pan executive producers Zadan and Meron but in January, Greenblatt said the network also has closed a rights deal for The Wizard Of Oz-themed The Wiz. This morning, sources told Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva the status of The Music Man reboot was TBD.
This will mark the third consecutive year NBC has aired a live family musical during holiday season. The Wiz project follows on the network’s wildly successful The Sound of Music, which starred Carrie Underwood and surprised cynics when it clocked nearly 19 million Live+Same Day viewers. One year later, Peter Pan. Peter Pan Live! starring Girls cast member Allison Williams, pulled in a much smaller 9.13 million this past December.
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. It moved to Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on January, 1975, where it ran for four years and won seven Tonys, including best musical. Its subsequent feature-film adaptation starred Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, and Richard Pryor as the Wizard. Unlike the Broadway version, it was a box-office flop.