Queen Latifah & Mary J. Blige Join 'The Wiz' On NBC, But Can They Tackle Their Iconic Characters? (Spoiler: You Betcha)
Great news for NBC: The network's yearly musical production saw a huge boost as both Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige joined the cast of The Wiz Live!, which airs December 3. To be honest, when I heard that NBC was doing a live musical of The Wiz, terror struck my brain. I think we can all agree that NBC doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to these productions, both The Sound of Music and Peter Pan were... a bit awkward. But The Wiz Live! could actually be a success, with Latifah taking on the title role of The Wiz of Emerald City which is amazing as the role is usually played by a man. And Mary J. Blige will take on the challenging role of Evilene, Wicked Witch of the West. Both women are born entertainers and obviously, they can carry a tune. But will they be able to up the challenge of acting and performing in the musical? Let's take a look at their future material and their musical chops, shall we?
The musical has been performed on Broadway and in film by such legendary stars as Lena Horn, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor, Deedee Bridgewater, Andre DeShields and more. Latifah and Blige will definitely be in good company this December.
The Wiz's Evillene, The Wicked Witch Of The West
Mabel King played Evilene in both the original Broadway cast and the film version of the The Wiz, so "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" is basically her signature song. Blige might be a strange choice for this particular song, and she's definitely got huge shoes to fill. But I have the feeling she can really bring it.
Blige's Best Musical (Theatre) Performance
Because not a lot of people saw Rock Of Ages, people may not realize that Blige is not a total newbie when it comes to a musical production. Blige sang the iconic Journey song "Anyway You Want It" so maybe taking on another iconic song won't be too difficult for her?
The Wiz's The Wiz Of Oz
"So You Want To Meet The Wizard" is such a fun song for any man or woman to perform, and there's no way Queen Latifah won't totally sing the hell out of it. And "Believe In Yourself" is such an iconic song that is performed by both the Wizard and Glinda, The Good Witch of the South. I really hope Latifah gets a chance to take a crack at it as well as whoever is cast as Glinda.
Queen Latifah's Best Musical (Theatre) Performance
Queen Latifah has nothing to worry about for The Wiz Live! Not only did she kill it in the film version of the musical Chicago, which got her an Academy Award nomination, she was also fantastic as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray. The Wiz Live! is right up her alley.
Long story short: This is definitely the first NBC live musical production I'm excited to watch.