Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige are easing on down the road in NBC’s The Wiz Live! But neither of them will play Dorothy. Queen Latifah will take on the role of the great and powerful Wiz of Emerald City, and Blige is set to play Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West, who had a fondness for those creepy winged monkeys.
“We are so happy reuniting with Latifah,” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who previously worked with Latifah on Hairspray and Steel Magnolias, said in a press release. “We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve had quite a lot of success together. To see her play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event.”
The Wiz Live! was announced by NBC in March after the success of the network’s Peter Pan and The Sound of Music live shows. In addition to Latifah’s and Blige’s casting in The Wiz Live!, it was announced in May that Stephanie Mills, the original Dorothy, had been cast as Auntie Em.
With the roles of Evilene, Auntie Em and the Wiz filled, one can only wonder who NBC will cast as Dorothy. The network held an open casting call in June and stated that it was looking for “a young African-American woman between 18-27 years old. She must have an extraordinary voice that can tell a story, as well as be mature with a youthful energy.”
The Wiz Live! airs Dec. 3 on NBC.