March 31, 2015 12:22 pm

Cirque du Soleil to help bring ‘The Wiz’ to TV, Broadway

The image from 'The Wiz' soundtrack album cover.

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LOS ANGELES — The Wiz is coming to TV and back to Broadway with productions from NBC and Canada’s Cirque du Soleil.

NBC said Monday it will air a Dec. 3 live production of the hit 1970s stage reinvention of The Wizard of Oz. Its partner on the TV version will be Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division, which will then present The Wiz on Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

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“Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love,” network chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement Monday.

Tony-Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) will stage the TV production and Broadway revival of The Wiz in collaboration with fellow Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy, Hairspray), who’s to contribute new material.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will be executive producers of The Wiz, the network said.

The Wiz was adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, with a book by William F. Brown, and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. The production opened on Broadway in 1975 and won seven Tonys, including best musical.

The original Broadway production featured Stephanie Mills as Dorothy, Dee Dee Bridgewater as good witch Glinda and Andre De Shields as the Wiz. Mills returned as Dorothy in a 1984 revival.

A 1978 movie version of The Wiz starred Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor in those respective roles. Michael Jackson co-starred as the Scarecrow, with Nipsey Russell as the Tinman and Ted Ross as the Lion.

Casting for the TV and stage versions wasn’t announced.

© 2015 The Associated Press

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