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March 05, 2009

Headlines: Des McAnuff Tapped for Dodgers Wiz Revival

The Wiz, the R&B-flavored take on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, will likely have its second Broadway revival next season. Two-time Tony winner Des McAnuff (Big River, The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) is in discussions to direct a Dodger Stage Holding-produced production of the tuner on the Great White Way in the spring of 2004, according to a Dodgers spokesperson. Though the original production famously featured an all African-American cast, Broadway.com has learned that this revival will have a racially diverse cast.

The Wiz features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and a book by William F. Brown. It first opened on Broadway on January 5, 1975 at the Majestic Theatre. After a move to the Broadway Theatre, it closed 1672 performances later. The first revival of The Wiz opened at the Lunt-Fontanne on May 24, 1984 and lasted only 13 performances. Despite this poor second showing on the Great White Way, The Wiz continued to thrive on the road. One successful tour, reuniting original stars Stephanie Mills and Andre de Shields, played Gotham's Beacon Theatre and was briefly rumored for a Broadway transfer. The Wiz is also remembered as an Oscar-nominated 1978 film starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne and Richard Pryor.

With The Wiz, the 2003-2004 Broadway season could have two Oz musicals. Wicked, the Stephen Schwartz musical expected to open at the Gershwin next October, also takes place in the mythical land. Of course there is also a tuner that partially takes place in the real Oz, Australia. The Boy From Oz, in which Hugh Jackman stars as Australian-born Peter Allen, starts off Down Under.