Tonight, NBC will once more attempt to contribute some positive culture to the masses by airing a live performance of the classic, Tony-winning musical, The Wiz. Unlike the last two attempts (a disasterous Sound of Music and an uninspired Peter Pan), this production will feature REAL SINGERS! People who have the ability to belt out the technically challenging songs, "Home,"" Be a Lion," "You Can't Win," and more! Queen Latifah, Stephanie Mills, Ne-Yo, Uzo Aduba, David Allen Grier and more. Every single one of them with an extensive musical or stage background!
In the past, I'd had high hopes for these live musicals on TV. Back in my parents' day, these types of programs were considered the norm. Families all over gathered around to watch live versions of classic dramas, operas and musical theater. I don't know why they stopped doing it. The arts are severely under-valued in this country, and we owe it to ourselves and our children to promote them once more. Tonight, we will see some truly gifted artists tackle a really FUN piece. Instead of relying on stunt-casting, NBC brought together the most experienced and well-thought-out cast yet! I can't wait to hear David Allen Grier sing I'm a "Mean Ole' Lion", and Uzo Aduba's rendition of "If You Believe" ought to be as moving as her performance of "Lily's Eyes" from last year's Broadway Backwards.
I'm thrilled to see that NBC is going to be exposing a whole new generation to a higher level of performance than what they have given us in years past. Maybe this is the beginning of a rebirth in the performing arts. Maybe network execs and producers will finally wake up to the fact that the audience wants that higher level - would prefer it to just seeing a "big name" taking up the airwaves with a lackluster performance. Furthermore, I hope the singing inspires more young people out there to want to study the performing arts. I hope that in this crazy, chaotic world, the youth see that art and music NEED to be valued.
Here's a preview of the good singing. The new Dorothy, Shanice Williams joins the ORIGINAL Dorothy, Stephanie Mills (who will be Aunt Em tonight). I hope they are in as good voice as they are here!