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The Wiz

From Academic Kids

The Wiz is both a 1975 Broadway musical and a 1978 film urbanized adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, featuring an all-African-American/Latino cast.

The Broadway musical opened in January 1975 with Stephanie Mills as Dorothy, Hinton Battle as Scarecrow, Tiger Haynes as Tin Man, Ted Ross as Lion and Mabel King as Evillene the Wicked Witch of the West. The production was directed by Geoffrey Holder. It ran for four years and over 1600 performances, and won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The movie was directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Joel Schumacher and filmed at Astoria Studios in New York City. It was produced by Motown Productions and released to theaters by Universal Pictures. The decaying New York State pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair was used as the set for Munchkinland. Mabel King and Ted Ross from the Broadway production continued their roles in the film; the rest of the cast included Diana Ross (Dorothy), Michael Jackson (Scarecrow), Nipsey Russell (Tin Man), Richard Pryor (The Wiz), and Lumet's mother-in-law, Lena Horne, as Glinda the Good Witch.

Despite the impressive talent involved, critics panned the production. Many critics directed their venom at 34 year-old Diana Ross, who they believed was too old to play Dorothy. Most agreed that what had worked so successfully on stage simply didn't translate well to the screen.


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The books | The authors (Baum | Thompson | McGraw | Volkov) | The illustrators (Denslow | Neill)
The film adaptations (The Wizard of Oz | The Wiz | Return to Oz)
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