All the Reasons Why The Wiz Live Might Be Better Than the '78 Movie

Highly anticipated for months, The Wiz Live finally premiered last night to much fan fare. Here is why I believe it is a much better production than the 1978 movie.

Shanice Williams, as Dorothy, looked and acted the appropriate age, and had the right energy and attitude of a young woman searching for answers. Diana Ross' Dorothy was too old and played too timid.  Literally, Ross played her for 2+ hours as whiny, emotionally stunted and terrified of life. Not so fun to watch.

Stephanie Mills, the ORIGINAL Dorothy was included in this production. Period. The very fact that she was not even asked to be apart of the '78 movie is plain blasphemy! She also looked great and sounded wonderful!

The sets were brightly lit and the Oz atmosphere was beautiful and enchanting. The '78 movie has some things going for it but the production values are not one. Some scenes are shot so dark (such as the Munchkinland playground) that you can't even make out details. Other shots are just dreary. The '78 Oz had a dismal, rundown quality with certain areas looking like slums. It looked like New York City after the apocalypse.

Addaperle instead of Miss One. Don't get me wrong I loooved Thelma Carpenter's Miss One but I appreciate the removal of of the number running, which is just another negative and unnecessary aspect for a family feature. Not to mention Amber Riley KILLED IT!!
The entire production was family friendly. With the exception of Evilene dropping the "ass" word, there were no scary or unseemly imagery. There were no prostitute Poppy girls, sprinkling some kind of drug on its victims. No scary flying monkeys. This time around, they kept the overt violence out.  Evilene was not flushed down a toilet, the Scarecrow was not dismembered, the Tin Main not crushed, the Lion not tortured. But best of all was the removal of those were those creepy subway creatures, that I know for a fact scared MANY children. Hell, that scene is still scary to many adults today (including this blogger).

The Wiz Live was positive throughout. Many on social media complained of the show not being "urban enough" but what made the '78 movie "urban" was also what made it appear more downtrodden, slang-heavy and showed more of the negative aspects of city life. As stated before of the movie, some sets looked like slums and ghettos and the world of Oz was bleak and plain ol' depressing. With the American political climate the way it has been lately, its nice to see a black production that is not focused on the downers of certain black experiences but had a more positive and uplifting tone. Also bonus, instead of Lion falling prey to the Poppy girls' drug, he defeated them all!

Other aspects that made this production great:

  • The costumes were beautiful. Mary J. Blige's Evilene costume took my breath away. Gone was the ugly Evilene, this one was gorgeous! The Lion's makeup was perfection and the detail of the Tin Man's makeup and costume, on point!
  • The modern updates. The Apple tablet, the "why shade?" comment, the vogueing and all the cute natural hairstyles; Lion's dreads, Dorothy's beautiful curls and the one Munchkin with the pink poofs. I see you!!
  • The fantastic performances. Neyo's Tin Man was heavenly, David Alan Grier's Lion was funny and lovable, Shanice William's Dorothy was confident and adorable, Elijah Kelley's Scarecrow crooned perfectly. Not to mention Uza Aduba's glorious Glinda which was a surprise from her role as Crazy Eyes from Orange in the New Black. Mary did her thang, as did Queen as the Wiz and Ms Stephanie Mills was stronger than ever.
  • The Wiz was a woman! How nice! 

Now what was missing:

  • The Emerald City song. One of my personal favorite song and dance numbers from the fill was removed but it is place was a fun, updated version that still had the slay, glamour and flair. 
  • Toto. THIS seemed to be the main complaint among social media-goers and personally I didn't miss him at all as he doesn't add anything to the story for me but for others, he was sorely missed when left back in Kansas.

Overall, I thought it was a stunning production and a great upgrade to the '70s classic. NBC knocked this one out of the park. They should consider re-airing this annually, just as they do the Wizard of Oz.

What were your thoughts on the show?

Lady Dulayne

Music junkie, Baltimore chick, Jedi mom, karaoke queen,'80s kid, hair and makeup fanatic, currently keeping up with a daily Greek yogurt habit.


  1. Thank you for your wonderful, astute, insightful analysis. This unique stage-to-television creation showed how to combine the best of both media for ultimate viewing pleasure. Anyone paying attention knew immediately that we were watching something special being born. Kudoes to all the performers and the production company for their combined excellence and professionalism.

  2. I LOVED The Wiz Live.
    - I was irritated (but entertained) by the Toto memes. There is no way they could have had a real dog on stage with people flying around and 13 cameras everywhere. It's live tv, that dog could have pissed, pooped or just kirked the eff out! Then people would talk about that. You can't have everything!
    - O.M.G!!!!!!!!!!!I loved the costumes, hair and make up. Mary's Evilene was the most sexy, fierce, fabulous WWW eva!! She served it up! Somebody mentioned she looked like Strange from Boomerang. I agree, but in a good way
    - I loved the vogue-ing Emerald City peeps. #yaaaaasss *2 snaps*
    - I hated the country accent by Neyo. But otherwise his singing and dancing were on point.
    - We all missed MJ, but he's dead. (pour out some for your dead homie)
    - Elijah Kelly and those crows broke it all. the. way. down. with " You Can't Win"
    - I am 100% here for the updated stage version that it was. It's 2015, for the most part it felt like it. I think comparing it to the movie isn't fair because it was an update of the stage production. The movie is a completely different animal
    - I wanted to lick Common's gorgeous, chiseled face. But he was only in it for 2 damn minutes! I demand more Common!
    - The ending was so abrupt. "there's no place like h - " Queue commercials!

    That's my 2 cents and then some

  3. I still heart the movie. I think it was meant to be for adults. Which is why you could have Diana as a 30something school teacher living at home (explains why she was timid) compared to an 18 year old rebellious teen. I think both worked. I did like the urban feel of the movie and the social message undertones about the black community and urban city life (from lottery, to not being able to get a cab, etc). However, that isn't as family friendly. The Wiz Live did right by pulling from the play over the movie. Theatrically I enjoyed the movie more but performance wise, I loved Neyo as the Tin Man (better than the movie version) and so was Amber and Shanice, everyone else was comparable.