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She'll Ease on Down the Road! Shanice Williams Will Play Dorothy in NBC's THE WIZ LIVE; Watch Audition!

NBC's The Wiz Live has found it's Dorothy! BroadwayWorld has just learned that Shanice Williams has joined the cast, starring alongside Grammy and Golden Globe-winner Queen Latifah as the Wizard, nine-time Grammy-winner Mary J. Blige as Evillene, original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills, as Auntie Em and David Alan Grier as the Cowardly Lion.

The news was announced on this morning's TODAY on NBC, where Williams appeared live and told Matt Lauer, "I don't even know what is in store but this is always what I wanted to do!" Below, watch Williams audition for the coveted role at an open casting call!

The 18-year-old New Jersey native who has been raised and trained in musical theater, was selected out of hundreds of applicants nationwide who had auditioned to portray the iconic role of a Kansas farm girl who gets swept up in a tornado and is sent to the mysterious land of Oz.

With five years of musical training that also includes extensive dance and piano, Williams has co-starred in several local productions, including "West Side Story," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," "42nd Street," "Seussical" and "Pippin." Last year Williams was nominated for best leading actress in a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse's annual Rising Star Awards.

NBC's upcoming holiday production of "The Wiz Live!," set for Thursday, Dec. 3.

"The Wiz Live!" is 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 at the Majestic Theatre, starring Mills. It won seven Tonys, including best musical. As previously announced, Mills is set to return to the show on NBC, this time in the role of 'Auntie Em'.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("The Sound of Music Live!," "Peter Pan Live!") serve as executive producers. Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct with Harvey Fierstein providing new written material. Fatima Robinson serves as choreographer. "The Wiz Live!" is produced by Universal Television in association with Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical.

"The Wiz" tells the classic story hundreds of millions of people have read in the L. Frank Baum books and then saw in the much-beloved 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," but retold in an African-American/multicultural context. Dorothy, a young woman from Kansas, is swept up in a tornado and relocated to a fantasy world that is inhabited by munchkins, good and bad witches, and, of course, flying monkeys. She eventually takes a path down a yellow brick road to find a wizard who can help her go home and along the way meets a scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion, who all learn to help one another.

Photo courtesy of NBC

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