You can watch this special production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ for free starting Friday. Here’s how
‘The Wiz Live!’ TV special first aired in 2015, and is based on the 1975 Broadway musical that marked one of the first examples of Broadway’s mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast.
On June 12, The Shows Must Go On will stream “The Wiz Live!” — a soul/R&B retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s fantasy novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Since April, the YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On has streamed a musical every Friday — for free.
After exclusively streaming Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals for seven weeks, The Shows Must Go On has switched to NBC adaptations of musicals. Most recently, the YouTube channel aired “Hairspray Live!”
“The Wiz Live!” TV special first aired in 2015, and is based on the 1975 Broadway musical that won seven Tony Awards — including one for best musical. That production — which three years later led to a star-studded film with Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Lena Horne, among others — was one of the first examples of Broadway’s mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“For a generation of black Americans, this was the first time they saw people who spoke, sung and moved the way they did in a Broadway production and, later, a big-screen musical, and it has become a kind of rite of passage for the black community,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2018.
“The Wiz Live!” aired 40 years after the musical’s Broadway debut. The cast of the NBC adaptation includes Queen Latifah, Mary J Blige, Ne-Yo, Amber Riley and Common.
The production will be available starting noon Friday and can be accessed for 48 hours.
The streaming of “The Wiz Live!” comes a week after The Shows Must Go On postponed its “Peter Pan Live!” stream to show support for Black Lives Matter protests, the Deseret News previously reported.
“We stand with our black employees, colleagues, partners and creators in outrage at acts of racism,” the channel and Universal said in a statement last week postponing the stream. “Black lives matter.”
Previously, “The Shows Must Go On” has streamed “Hairspray Live!” “Cats,” “By Jeeves!” “Andrew Lloyd Webber – The Royal Albert Hall Celebration,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” the “Phantom” sequel “Love Never Dies,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” starring Donny Osmond, and the 2012 U.K. arena tour production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Proceeds from the streams have assisted a number of organizations amid the coronavirus pandemic, including the Actors Fund, Acting for Others, Broadway Cares and Actors Benevolent Fund, the Deseret News previously reported.