NBC’s next live musical event will come with a literal twist (or, more likely, dozens of ’em).
The network announced on Monday that executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — the men behind NBC’s live versions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan — will mount a live production of The Wiz in partnership with Cirque du Soleil on Dec. 3. Cirque’s new stage theatrical division will then present The Wiz as a major Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season.
Tony-winning director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival in collaboration with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.
In January, NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the network had secured rights to The Wiz — despite having previously announced its intent to produce The Music Man as its followup to Peter Pan. At the time, he did not close the door on proceeding with either musical.
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Peter Pan Live‘s 9.1 million total viewers and 2.3 demo rating last December were down 50 percent from Sound of Music Live!‘s fast nationals in 2013, but it still gave NBC its second highest-rated non-sports Thursday in three years and its second most-watched one in more than five years.
Casting for both the NBC telecast and Cirque du Soleil’s Broadway production of The Wiz will be announced at a later date.
As with NBC’s previous musical picks, The Wiz not only had Broadway runs (in the mid-70s and again in 1984), but also spawned a big screen adaptation — starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson — in 1978. It is adapted from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” added Greenblatt, in a release. “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.”