All around, nicely done!
It may have had its share of sarcastic reactions on Twitter, but last night’s The Wiz Live! generally lived up to — and probably even exceeded — expectations as far as theater on live TV is concerned!
Sure, Toto was missing after the first scene (not cool!), but besides that, the three-hour show was crisp, fun, and dazzling with some spectacular performances and an all-around strong, original version of the classic tale of Wizard Of Oz!
Found off an open casting call, Shanice Williams dazzled as Dorothy, and Entertainment Weekly thought she made the perfect main character:
“This is a story about finding your people, fighting against tyranny, being brave, and having a heart. It’s a story about a young woman who feels powerless in the world, finding why she still matters, even though she’s just an ordinary girl from the Midwest. Because of that, NBC was extremely smart to cast Williams to play Dorothy.
Like Stephanie Mills, who played the original Dorothy and appears as Auntie Em here, the 19-year-old actress was an unknown when she beat out hundreds of others for the role. She’s from Rahway, N.J., but as far as Broadway’s concerned, that might as well be Kansas. And she has the perfect mix of street smarts and childlike wonder for the role.”
The Hollywood Reporter agreed, noting how there really wasn’t much for viewers to criticize in the stunning musical:
“Unable to do worse than nit-pick the sort of minor technical struggles that are nearly inevitable in a live, one-night-only full-scale musical with a cast of hundreds, this was the first time it was possible to just sit back and purely enjoy a new generation NBC musical and hope the first lesson producers learn for next year’s show is to bring back director Kenny Leon and especially choreographer Fatima Robinson, who did such a fine job you can bet they’re both already imagining how they could do it better.”
The Wrap went further, noting how diversity significantly helped craft the story in this version of the classic tale, while keeping the show free from cheesy and corny attributes that too often befall theater on live TV:
“On the surface, the all-black production fit with television’s newly discovered diversity mandate (really? Not only white people watch television?!) but even deeper than that it managed to put a fresh spin on a classic story that’s been retold time and again through various generations. Learning from the past two productions, producers also managed to ditch the kitsch this time around, relying on beautiful performances from Cirque du Soleil to transition viewers into that wonderful world of Oz rather than cheesy smoke effects and extra glitter.”
It wasn’t all good, though; THR did have one gripe about poor timing of commercials:
“Most of the breath-catching in The Wiz Live! got to happen during the copious commercial interruptions that came just about every time the show hit a big moment. Look it’s the Yellow Brick Road? Let’s ease into commercial first! Brand new day? How about buying some brand new products.”
But perhaps THR also summed it up best about what The Wiz Live! means for future live theater performances on TV — specifically Grease Live! that will be broadcast on FOX in January:
“The biggest winner in The Wiz Live! is, of course, NBC, which would have been hard-pressed to find audience enthusiasm for another live musical if this one tanked. Suddenly, after this show of ambition, there’s actually cause for excitement. The big loser? Fox, which announced and cast and scheduled Grease Live! when it only had to top Sound of Music and Peter Pan. Well, the bar is raised.”
Sounds like there are some pretty big shoes to fill, FOX!
So TV reviewers loved The Wiz Live! but what about you?! What did U think of the show??
[Image via NBC.]