Kayla Reviews: The Wiz Live (NBC)
Like many people, I grew up on the film version of The Wiz with Diana Ross. So if course I was excited when I heard that NBC was adding it to their catalogue of live stage productions. I knew going in that the Broadway version differs from the film version (wildly so in some areas) so I'll do my best to judge the versions separately while still drawing comparisons between them. I watched it with my mom so some of her comments are sprinkled throughout. Enjoy!
My first and most obvious observation is Dorothy is actually on a farm and not in The Bronx or where ever she was in New York City in the film version. She's actually a young (reluctant) farm girl.
"The Feeling We Once Had": My mom tells me this lady playing Aunt Em is from the 70s and "still looks good". She's a good singer.
The costumed people as wind during the tornado transition was very cool.
"He's the Wiz": I am a fan of Amber Riley's singing voice (her instagram account is awesome as well). I love the blue wig! It looks so soft.
"You Can't Win": I love watching Elijah Kelly perform in anything I've seen him in thus far (the film adaptation of the Hairspray musical, Take the Lead). His costume, however, is creepy! His mask looks like leather face :O. The crow costumes are cool. I wish I was one of those people flying around on a wire. *sigh* one day.
"Slide Some Oil To Me": I forgot how well Neyo can sing. I don't know if anyone can replace the Nispey Russel version of this song in my mind and heart. His version was just so jaunty. They put something, (grills? Did Paul Wall get a check?) in Neyo's mouth to make his teeth look tin-y. It makes his talking sound spitty like he just got retainers - gross - and is super distracting for me whenever he talks for sings. I don't understand carrying this choice all the way through to the final performance. I wish someone would have vetoed this.
"Mean Ol' Lion": I didn't know David Alan Greier was the lion before I sat down to watch this. I'm liking his performance so far. I feel like I recall seeing him at the Tony's a few years back so him giving a good musical theatre performance isn't too surprising for me. His performance reminds me of the film version. I love that this version of the lion has mane locs.
Side note: Dorothy's mom is in a tree trying to get her shoes. The Great Rumpus Cat and his children pop out when she refuses!
The poppys' dancing is fantastic! A1. Let me see who choreographed this. My mom, who was snoring at this point, woke up to say, "You could have tried out for this show Kayla." Thanks for believing in me mom. I feel like this scene came later in the film version.
Arriving at the Emerald City: Hi Common as the door man! He just wants order, but does he need to be so rude? Is there something in his mouth too? Those shoes are a pass to anywhere.
This Oz is the House of Ninja. It's the same spirit as the film version of Oz with the fashionable party just modernized, but the film version with the different colors and styles is fantastic if you haven't seen it, you can check it out at the bottom of this post since I couldn't find a good quality upload of it on Youtube. The gold sequence in the film version is my personal favorite along with the "oh oh ah" lady.
Side note: I wonder if the Oz head was modeled after Don Cheadle, or if that was an unintended result.
Hey Queen as The Wiz! This wiz comes out on their own accord being bad ass. They don't have to be found out hiding behind the giant head like Richard Pryor Oz in the film version. I like this sparkly green jacket! Yes to the shoulder pads! Let me go to Michael's so I can whip up a replica. I bet I can find a sequined pants suit to go underneath at my local forever 21. Catch me at Halloween ya'll!
"What Would I Do If I Could Feel": Neyo can sang, but his side cocked tin hat is so distracting. It would be cool if the heads in The Wiz's chamber did the "whats" like the carnival heads did in the film version. This song comes at a different point in the film version I'm pretty sure. I think it was at the broke down carnival after "Slide Some Oil To Me" when Nispsey Tin Man cries over Teeny. I wonder where this song comes in the original Broadway stage show. I'm inclined to believe it's similar to this NBC version.
Side note: That broke down carnival from the film version always reminds me of the interludes on the Lil' Romeo Romeoland album my cousin used to listen to.
Oh Dorothy's friends are turning on her?! #unloyal. They didn't dare do Diana Dorothy like that in the film version. This song is new to me. This song very well could be in the original Broadway production but I didn't look it up.
Side note: Is anyone else weirded out when an entire choir backs up a song but they are nowhere in sight?
"No Bad News": I see some of the crows are doing double duty as Evilene's slaves. I love this braided hairstyle Mary is wearing. Why do they know who Eddie Murphy is? Mary is waving and tossing her arms while e-mo-ting... Ok! Mary is doing a little step! I like. I hope she uses these moves on her next tour. Overall good performance from her!
"Brand New Day": There is no sensual undressing and no people standing in the rafters moving to the beat in this version. I surprisingly miss these things from the film version. I feel like the film version had more technical dancing and less tumbling than this NBC version. I like the film version better overall even though I love tumbling.
I don't understand why they are shocked when they return to The Wiz's chamber and see her on the couch. They knew The Wiz was a regular person already. What, did the sequins throw them off? Now she's in a robe and she's a fraud? I think I missed something. I like that The Wiz is a woman in this version.
Lmao The Wiz is a shyster! "Let me talk ya'll into realizing you already have what you want so I don't actually have to do anything and I won't get in trouble." That's how she got this position as wiz. She should be a lawyer.
Use that reverse psychology dorothy! Guilt her into helping you!
Commercial side note: j-lo on network tv again?
"Ya'll Got It": Where can I get this pale pink jacket/dress combo with scarf? The man with the afro wig made from streamers is sangin! Does he have a youtube channel? Where else can I listen to him?
"If You Believe": I'm so glad Uzo Glinda doesn't have those star babies around her like Glinda Lena from the film version.
I love Uzo's dress and performance. That stage presence! That's how you want to use your arms Mary.
I expect to see and be seen in some Wiz Live inspired costumes this halloween.
What did you think of the show?