Review: "The Wiz Live!"

Chris Peterson

Good luck Grease Live! 

Last night, The Wiz Live!,  NBC's third annual live musical production, aired and to be quite honest, it's their best one yet. Which I understand might not be much of a compliment since the first two were train wrecks. But The Wiz Live! was a good production without any glaring issues(like Christopher Walken last year) yet, at the same time, absent of any "wow factor". It felt like the production was trying to pay tribute to the previous versions without surpassing them.

Shanice Williams serviceable as Dorothy. She gave the performance I was expecting her to give, which was not an easy task considering this was her big break and the shoes she had to fill with one of the previous wearers performing along with her. I will say that I was thankful that she screamed a whole lot less through her dialogue than Diana Ross did....seriously watch the movie, Ross is either whimpering or screaming all of her lines. 

Early highlights were Glee's Amber Riley and Orange is the New Black's Uzo Aduba. Also surprisingly great performances from Ne-Yo and Elijah Kelly. 

I was also a bit surprised that I didn't like Queen Latifah more. Maybe it was the forced statement of her costuming or the dullness of her performance, or both, who knows. I was also expecting a big moment from Mary J. Blige and her rendition of "No Bad News", but again wasn't wowed. 

However, these slights didn't bring down the entire broadcast. The Wiz Live! was certainly a bar setter for these live musical broadcasts and better yet, had a lot of heart, courage and intelligence. 

Fox has their work cut out for them this January with a musical about how succumbing to peer pressure will win over the guy who's been ignoring you and get you friendships that go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.