Producers Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson, Brian Anthony Moreland, and Ambassador Theatre Group announced today that an all-new production of the groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical The Wiz, adapted from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, is easing on down the road toward a national tour before returning to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023/24 season. Featuring a book by William F. Brown and a Tony Award-winning score by Charlie Smalls (and others), this entirely reimagined revival is directed by Schele Williams (in her Broadway directorial debut), choreographed by Jaquel Knight (in his Broadway debut), additional material by Amber Ruffin, and music supervision, orchestrations, and music arrangements by Joseph Joubert.
The Wiz will launch its national tour in the Fall of 2023 in Baltimore, MD, home of the 1974 world premiere of the musical. Following its run at the Hippodrome Theatre, the tour will slide into Emerald cities across the country before it begins its limited engagement on Broadway in the Spring 2024.
Director Williams commented, “I wouldn’t be on Broadway if it wasn’t for The Wiz…the music, the costumes, the choreography and Stephanie Mills! Seeing that show changed my life. It is, in every way, a celebration of Black excellence. I am honored to helm this production and I can’t think of a better time to tell this story.”
In a statement, Mr. Knight said, “It is a dream come true to be a part of what I consider the epitome of black excellence. There’s not one piece of art that has had influence on popular culture like The Wiz. I’m humbled to not only have the opportunity to leave my own mark on a true work of art, but to continue the storytelling and legacy building on the beauty of blackness through dance, movement, & attitude. I’m honored to stand on the backs of those greats who’ve opened this door, such as the Louis Johnson and George Faison; and I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to help show kids who look like me that the Theater is a world where they can see themselves.”
“The Wiz is a beloved, joyous, and fantastic musical celebrating Black excellence," commented the producers. “Inspired by the original visions of Geoffrey Holder and George Faison, we are honored to give way to a new generation of Black artists who love this show as much as we do. We are thrilled to now bring The Wiz to theatregoers around the U.S. and on Broadway.”
“I am thrilled my father’s music and The Wiz is returning to Broadway,” said Michael Smalls, son of The Wiz composer Charlie Smalls. “I am so happy to know a new generation will be discovering these wonderful songs and learn of my father’s extraordinary talent.”
Based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, The Wiz takes one of the world’s most enduring (and enduringly white) American fantasies, and transforms it into an all-Black musical extravaganza for the ages.
The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975 and became an instant sensation, going on to win seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Ted Ross), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Best Choreography (George Faison), and in a Broadway first, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design (Geoffrey Holder). “Ease on Down the Road” became the show’s break-out single, and “Home” has since become a bona fide classic. That original production ran for four years (first at The Majestic Theatre and later at The Broadway Theatre) – and 1,672 performances – on Broadway. A 1978 film adaptation starred Diana Ross, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne, and marked Quincy Jones’ first collaboration with Michael Jackson.
Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting. The design team will be announced at a later date.