The Wiz at Music Circus - Time for a Broadway Revival??

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Anastasia_Beaverhausen
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This cast!! And they are the costumes (most) from the NBC live version!

Cast

Sizzle video: https://youtu.be/sFcbcrHDjoc

Updated On: 8/8/19 at 05:26 PM
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It's been time for a revival for a few decades.

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True! ☺️

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Well, the first revival (with Stephanie Mills) flopped. I thought there was a revival in the 90's that flopped, too. The movie was a flop. And the NBC Live version was a ratings disappointment. As I understand it, the original largely made itself a hit by selling tickets in bulk to church organizations and being one of the first shows to utilize a t.v. commercial to drum up business--early ticket sales were not strong. So I think a revival in the near future is unlikely.

Frustrating, as there's only the OBC recording to listen to, and it's missing a number of the songs, plus the Overture (there's the Wiz Live! and the soundtrack, if you want to count them as cast recordings, but the same holds true about a number of big songs from the show omitted).

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Anastasia_Beaverhausen said: "This cast!! And theyare the costumes (most) from the NBC live version!

Cast

Sizzle video:https://youtu.be/sFcbcrHDjoc
"

They are definitely the same costume designs from the NBC live version, but I think they're new versions, eveline's is certainly not the same size as the one that mary-j-blige wore. Lol. I think it'll be great to have a Broadway revival, but with this shows track record producers might be iffy on it.

Darreyl with an L!
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joevitus: Interesting! I had no idea! Well, the book is terrible, but that can be worked on. The music is so great though. Too bad the recordings aren’t great and they omitted songs.

darrey1102: They are the actual costumes (except Dorothy and Scarecrow) and are advertised as such. Music Circus is an equity theater company and has a team of stitchers and costume folks. No doubt, alterations were made.

Updated On: 8/8/19 at 07:17 PM
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joevitus said: "Well, the first revival (with Stephanie Mills) flopped. I thought there was a revival in the 90's that flopped, too. The movie was a flop. And the NBC Live version was a ratings disappointment. As I understand it, the original largely made itself a hit byselling tickets in bulk to church organizations and being one of the first shows to utilize a t.v. commercial to drum up business--early ticket sales were not strong.So I think a revival in the near future is unlikely.

Frustrating, as there's only the OBC recording to listen to, and it's missing a number of the songs, plus the Overture(there's the Wiz Live! and the soundtrack, if you want to count them as cast recordings, but the same holds true about a number ofbig songs from the show omitted).
"

There indeed was a 1993 flop revival that played the Beacon Theatre following a tour that I saw on it's Chicago stop.

I have no idea if the Beacon was operating under a  Broadway contract for the booking of the show.

Does the Beacon even still exist, anyone?

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The Beacon Theatre still exists. It does not operate as a Broadway house.
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Anastasia_Beaverhausen said: "joevitus: Interesting! I had no idea! Well, the book is terrible, but that can be worked on. The music is so great though. Too bad the recordings aren’tgreat and they omitted songs.

darrey1102: They are the actual costumes (except Dorothy and Scarecrow) and are advertised as such. Music Circus is an equity theater company and has a team of stitchers and costume folks. No doubt, alterations were made.
"

I have no real problem with the book, and Harvey Fierstein's book for the live broadcast was worse, imo. The score really is great.

My only point was that so many flop revivals make producers wary of giving the show another shot. I happen to think it is terrific (and reportedly, Sondheim loved the show).

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joevitus said: "Well, the first revival (with Stephanie Mills) flopped. I thought there was a revival in the 90's that flopped, too. The movie was a flop. And the NBC Live version was a ratings disappointment. As I understand it, the original largely made itself a hit byselling tickets in bulk to church organizations and being one of the first shows to utilize a t.v. commercial to drum up business--early ticket sales were not strong.So I think a revival in the near future is unlikely.

Frustrating, as there's only the OBC recording to listen to, and it's missing a number of the songs, plus the Overture(there's the Wiz Live! and the soundtrack, if you want to count them as cast recordings, but the same holds true about a number ofbig songs from the show omitted).
"

 

Agreed on all fronts- that OBC recording sounds so little like the actual score- the more "Broadway sound"- brass and strings pushed into the back of the mix, and the cast sounds comparatively low energy. That overture (which a recording of the opening night at the Majestic I cherish- I need to find the complete recording of that performance!) is incredible! Even though it's never been professionally recorded, it stands IMO as one of the top ten greatest overtures to a show! I bet hearing that before a great curtain at the Majestic- you knew you were going to see something BIG, and beautiful! *PS- Does anyone have that recording in full that they could graciously share?

I think a Broadway revival would be incredible. While the likelihood of it happening is low, I'd love to see a big, nostalgic production, with those gorgeous original orchestrations by Harold Wheeler (21 pieces!)- much like the Jerry Zaks Hello Dolly!  Although, something that could bring new generations to the show, not just be a valentine to old-fashioned theatre making. 

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GoldenOboe24 said: "I'd love to see a big, nostalgic production, with those gorgeous original orchestrations by Harold Wheeler (21 pieces!) - much like the Jerry ZaksHello Dolly! Although, something that could bring new generations to the show, not just be a valentine to old-fashioned theatre making."

This would be wonderful. If for no other reason than to finally get a complete recording of the score. Something like Dolly that's actually just an unapologetic and loving recreation of what worked so brilliantly the first time might actually work better than trying to modernize or reinvent the piece with a new concept.

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CATSNYrevival said: "GoldenOboe24 said: "I'd love to see a big, nostalgic production, with those gorgeous original orchestrations by Harold Wheeler (21 pieces!) - much like the Jerry ZaksHello Dolly!Although, something that could bring new generations to the show, not just be a valentine to old-fashioned theatre making."

This would be wonderful. If for no other reason than to finally get a complete recording of the score. Something like Dolly that's actually just an unapologetic and loving recreation of what worked so brilliantly the first time might actually work better thantrying to modernize or reinvent the piece with a new concept.
"

 

Absolutely- a complete recording of the score would be an absolute treasure. Even just the overture would make me happy!

 

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Don't forget the City Center production from a few years ago that had people speculating that there would be a revival.  I saw Ford's Theatre production last year in DC and it reminded me just how bad the book was.  I saw the original production when I was 15, but don't remember much besides Stephanie Mills.

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There was Broadway money behind the Encores! production, but it didn't move.

Then, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, and the Shuberts were going to present a revival based on the NBC version.

Last summer, Amber Ruffin (one of Seth Meyers' writers and on-air contributors) did some book rewrites for the St. Louis MUNY production; I wonder if the Sacramento production uses that version of the book?

At this point, I'll believe a WIZ revival when I see it. It's a great score, and that original cast album really deviates from the stage production to give it more of a Motown feel. Maybe WICKED is enough Wizard of Oz for Broadway?

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I worked on this production of The Wiz at Music Circus and would love to elaborate on these thoughts. First and foremost, these are the exact costumes from NBC's The Wiz Live with minor alterations done to accommodate for actors' necessities. Wigs, hair, and makeup are all newly designed.

In terms of a Broadway revival, yes there is talk. Will it happen anytime soon? Unlikely. Reason being that The Wiz was rewritten about a year ago for a production at the Muny. New script, new orchestrations, score rearranged, and it worked extremely well. It was rewritten in hopes of it transferring to Broadway for a revival, but it is at a total standstill right now because the writers are concerned about royalties with all of these rewrites. So essentially they need to wait for the original authors to pass on. William L. Brown passed away in June, but not sure who else they need to wait on. Harold Wheeler would be my guess. Anyways, the MD/Orchestrator of the Muny production is also our MD/Conductor, so we've been able to use a few of his new arrangements in the show and they're very cool.

Music Circus is not using the new Muny script, we're stuck using the original licensed script and I am frequently reminded how horrendous the book is. But what's amazing is that even with such a bad book, this production of The Wiz is hands down the best thing I've seen at Music Circus, which is saying quite a lot. The production just works so well with all of the elements, and this cast is phenomenal. The constant high-value spectacle and production design, incredible band, and vibrant performances make this a real special one, and if the revival can encapsulate this same feeling it would hit like a charm.

Updated On: 8/9/19 at 02:38 PM
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Ledaero said: "I worked on this production ofThe Wizat Music Circus and would love to elaborate on these thoughts. First and foremost, these are the exact costumes from NBC'sThe Wiz Livewith minoralterations done to accommodate for actors' necessities. Wigs, hair, and makeup are all newly designed.

In terms of a Broadway revival, yes there is talk. Will it happen anytime soon? Unlikely. Reason being thatThe Wizwas rewritten about a year ago for a production at the Muny. New script, new orchestrations, score rearranged, and it worked extremely well. It was rewritten in hopes of it transferring to Broadway for a revival, but it is at a total standstill right now because the writers are concerned about royalties with all of these rewrites. So essentially they need to wait for the original authors to pass on. William L. Brown passed away in June, but not sure who else they need to wait on. Harold Wheeler would be my guess. Anyways, the MD/Orchestrator of the Muny production is also our MD/Conductor, so we've been able to use a few of his new arrangements in the show and they're very cool.

Music Circus is not using the new Muny script, we're stuck using the original licensed script and I am frequently reminded how horrendous the book is. But what's amazing is that even with such a bad book, this production ofThe Wizis hands downthe best thing I've seen at Music Circus, which is saying quite a lot. The production just works so well with all of the elements, and this cast is phenomenal. The constant high-value spectacle and production design, incredible band, and vibrant performances make this a real special one, and if the revival can encapsulate this same feeling it would hit like a charm.
"

Wow, thank you for sharing! I was not aware of the rewitten/rearranged orchestration for the Muny production. With Geoffrey Holder AND William Brown gone, I can imagine it can be easier for the lawyers to work through the changes, but I can't imagine Wheeler wanting his work to dissolve in favor of a new orchestration. From watching that Broll- it sounds fantastic! Do they perform the overture as written? 

If you haven't had the chance yet, give it a listen: Overture

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The book is not that bad. The original works if you know how to play it. Most of the rewrites I’ve seen just make it even worse.
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Wow, thank you for sharing! I was not aware of the rewitten/rearranged orchestration for the Muny production. With Geoffrey Holder AND William Brown gone, I can imagine it can be easier for the lawyers to work through the changes, but I can't imagine Wheeler wanting his work to dissolve in favor of a new orchestration.From watching that Broll- it sounds fantastic! Do they perform the overture as written?

If you haven't had the chance yet, give it a listen:Overture
"

Yes, I also agree about Wheeler being hesitant about the new orchestrations. Our production is doing the Overture as originally orchestrated, except that we start at "Ease on Down the Road" for the cut. We always have to slice and dice Overtures here at Music Circus for time, unfortunately. But It's an epic overture, especially those last 8 bars or so. 

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You have linked literally one of my favorite posters on the internet. That person has ever song on live recordings and clips from the revival. I am so grateful for The Wiz Fan.

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joevitus said: "You have linked literally one of my favorite posterson the internet. That person has ever song on live recordings and clips from the revival. I am so grateful for The Wiz Fan."

Absolutely! I'm so grateful for those clips of the opening night of the original Broadway production...

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The Wiz is the show that got me into theatre. The score is beyond incredible and I remember sitting in awe watching an amateur production way back when. However, I saw the Ford’s production last year and I realized how weak the book actually is. The show needs a sense of style and have yet to see a production that actually has it. How I wish I was able to see the original production.
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What's sad is that aside from the 30-second TV commercial, there doesn't seem to be any footage of the original production- professionally (before B-roll, and just as the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive was barely just getting started) or amateur (portable video cameras in 1975? No.) The only material, other than what might be in the hands of the remaining members of the creative team- seems to be that opening night bootleg- a shame for a show that ran nearly 1,700 performances, moved theaters and ended up bouncing back from nearly closing to taking home seven Tony Awards that year.

Even the Tony Awards ceremony that year didn't perform any selections or medleys from the nominated shows that year- The Wiz, Mack & Mabel, Shenandoah, The Lieutentant, and Angela Lansbury in Gypsy.

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Just out of curiosity, how did the 1984 Broadway revival at the Lunt-Fontanne differ from the original production? They were both directed by Geoffrey Holder, and it's hard to tell the difference between the two productions in Martha Swope's photos, with much of the same costumes...was it stripped down scenically, orchestrally, etc.? Were there changes made to the show then?

 

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My favorite musical.  Saw the production at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2006 (had to look it up). What a cast.  Nikki James, Titus, David Allen Grier.

Thought the production was really strong and was quite surprised it never made its way to Broadway

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The Wiz is a musical that I think was 'of its time'.  I don't care who directs it or who is in it...I think it'd be a horrible failure if produced today.  IMO the score is mostly crummy, with 3 of 4 good to very good songs: Ease on Down the Road, If You Believe, Home and maybe (sic) Don't Nobody Give Me No Bad News.  The TV production a few years back serves, at least to me, to highlight that there is a lot of boring material at the beginning to the show.  I didn't stay too watch the entire thing, so I can't say that that it didn't improve, but the material itself was so forced 40 years post its original opening.

 

So I definitely dont think it is ready for a Broadway revival, unless the producers of King Kong or Honeymoon in Vegas are looking to lose more money.