More casting has been announced for the upcoming Broadway-bound touring revival of The Wiz. Grammy nominee and Broadway alum Deborah Cox will play Glinda, and Melody A. Betts will take on the dual roles of Aunt Em and Evillene, The Wiz's Wicked Witch of the West. The tour is set to launch at Baltimore, Maryland's Hippodrome Theatre September 26. Schele Williams is directing the new production with choreography by JaQuel Knight.
Cox, a Grammy nominee for her 2000 album Destination Moon, made her Broadway debut in 2004 playing the title role in Aida. She returned to the Main Stem in the 2013 revival of Jekyll & Hyde, and starred in a 2017 tour of The Bodyguard. Betts made her Broadway debut in 2019 during the original run of Waitress after starring in the musical's national tour.
They join a previously announced cast that includes Wayne Brady in the title role for selected stops on the tour and the Broadway run (Kinky Boots' Alan Mingo Jr. will handle the role for the rest of the tour), Kyle Ramar Freeman (A Strange Loop) as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson (Sharper) as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson (The Voice) as the Scarecrow. Additional casting is to be announced.
Williams is leading a creative team that also includes 2023 Tony Award nominee Amber Ruffin, who will provide additional material. The gig is Ruffin's second theatrical outing, following her work co-writing the Tony-nominated book to Broadway's current Some Like It Hot with Matthew López. Joseph Joubert will provide music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements, with scenic design by Hannah Beachler, costume design by Sharen Davis, lighting design by Ryan J. O'Gara, sound design by Jon Weston, and wig design by Mia Neal. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting.
The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975, transforming L. Frank Baum's classic children's novel into an all-Black "super soul musical," as it was originally billed. A surprise hit of the season, the musical won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Score, Featured Actor in a Musical (Ted Ross), Featured Actress in a Musical (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Choreography (George Faison), and Direction of a Musical and Costume Design (both Geoffrey Holder). The score's "Ease On Down the Road" and "Home" became breakout hits, and original star Stephanie Mills was propelled into stardom. The musical made the jump to the big screen in 1978 with a film adaptation starring Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, and, reprising his Broadway performance as the Cowardly Lion, Ross.
The musical got the live TV treatment via NBC in 2015, a production that was initially announced as being Broadway bound following the television premiere. That revival, which would have been produced by Neil Meron and the late Craig Zadan, never materialized.
For a full itinerary of the upcoming tour, visit WizMusical.com.