Ne-Yo & Common Join NBC's 'The Wiz', But Can They Handle The Musical Life?
At the NBC's panel at the Television Critics Association, the network execs announced the latest casting news for their upcoming live production of The Wiz. Ne-Yo and Common will star in The Wiz as the Tin-Man and the gatekeeper to Oz respectively. Ne-Yo will get to sing one of the best songs in the show, "Slide Some Oil to Me," and, while Common doesn't sing, he plays a vital role in the story. Hip hop fans are excited to see this two talented icons take the stage, along with Elijah Kelly (Seaweed from the Hairspray movie) and newcomer Shanice Williams, who will play Dorothy.
But I'm not gonna lie, I'm not here for the hip hop. I'm super psyched for The Wiz mostly because I'm a Broadway obsessee. I am a musical theatre snob — meaning, that I almost exclusively listen to showtunes, and sometimes find myself getting really angry because I suddently remember the fact that West Side Story lost the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1957. (To The Music Man! But that's a discussion for another article.)
Initially I was bummed that NBC isn't getting bonafide Broadway actors to play these roles, but Ne-Yo and Common have both already proven that they have the theatrical chops to take on the big musical theatre production.
Ne-Yo Can Dance
He has some sweet moves, and certainly will be able to do the robot as the tin man, as well as ease on down the road.
Common Can Act
In 2011, Common played a free slave who was working on the transcontinental railroad on the AMC series, Hell of Wheels. That is certainly an emotionally difficult and sophisticated period piece, so he can definitely handle The Wiz.
Ne-Yo Has a Big Heart
This song could just has easily been sung by the Tin Man, who was on the journey to Oz to ask the Wiz for a heart. Acting is about empathy, and well, heart, and I feel like Ne-Yo will do a good job.
Common Loves Broadway Musicals
Just last week, Common went to see the hip hop musical Hamilton on Broadway, and raved about it. He clearly loves the art form.
Ne-Yo Has Great Stage Presence
More than technical skill, performing in a musical is all about making a connection with the audience. Ne-Yo has impeccable stage presence, which is the thing that matters most.
Common Is Just the Best in General
I was so moved by Common's performance and speech at the Oscars. I'm so glad he won the Award — maybe he'll now get a Tony and an Emmy, too!
This is bound to an awesome production, and I'm excited to add the cast recording to my iTunes library of exclusively showtunes.