Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige Set to Star in the The Wiz Live!
NBC made the casting announcement on Thursday
NBC announced Thursday that the stars have officially been cast in The Wiz Live!, the much-anticipated adaptation of the 1975 Broadway hit, PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly can exclusively reveal.
In a bit of gender-blind casting, Latifah has been cast as the titular wizard (a role that Richard Pryor tackled in the 1978 film version). Blige will play Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West.
“To see [Queen Latifah] play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event,” say Wiz executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
NBC revealed in May that Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway cast, had been cast as Auntie Em in the NBC version.
As for the lead role of Dorothy, it was announced in June that the network will hold an open casting call, giving an unknown actress the chance to take center stage.
“The story of Dorothy has always been about someone new,” casting director Bernard Tesley told PEOPLE of the reason behind the decision in June. “It feels like the innocence of Dorothy should be a face that we don’t recognize and don’t know.”
Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige Join NBC’s ‘The Wiz Live’
When the auditions began on June 6 in New York City, hundreds of hopefuls showed up to give it their best shot.
After the December telecast, Cirque du Soleil – who will oversee the production – will present The Wiz as a Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season.
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The Wiz Live! will air Dec. 3 on NBC.