NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” has added two more Grammy winners to its star-studded cast, network president Bob Greenblatt announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
R&B singer Ne-Yo (“Closer”) will play the Tin Man, the former woodsman out to find a new heart.
Rapper Common, who also picked up an Oscar for last year’s best original song “Glory” from “Selma,” will play a non-singing part: Bouncer, the gatekeeper to the entrance to the Emerald City.
The live production of Charlie Small’s musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” will air on NBC on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m..
Ne-Yo and Common join previously announced stars Mary J. Blige as the Wicked Witch of the West; Queen Latifah as the Wiz; Uzo Aduba as the Good Witch of the South; Amber Riley as the Good Witch of the North; and David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion.
Elijah Kelley, who starred in the film adaptation of the musical “Hairspray,” is also on board, reuniting with his “Hairspray” mom Queen Latifah and executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. He’ll star as the Scarecrow, the role made famous by Michael Jackson in the 1978 film.
New Jersey native Shanice Williams has been cast in the lead role of Dorothy. Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production, will be on hand to lend her support in the role of Auntie Em.
“The Wiz Live!” will be directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) and Matthew Diamond, with Harvey Fierstein (“Hairspray”) providing new materials to William F. Brown’s original book.
NBC plans to transfer the production to Broadway for the 2016-17 season.