The performance of The Wiz Live! will include a new song written by Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and music producer and director Harvey Mason Jr. and Stephen Oremus.
The team put together the song “We Got it” especially for the show and it’s expected to be a huge showstopper at the end of the first act. Sung by the quartet of friends, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion the song is a time for them to finally come together in one song, something lacking in other renditions. “It was basically that moment for Dorothy to look at everybody and say ‘look inside yourself. Whatever you need is right here already,'” said Kelley.
Given the context of the story and production by Director Kenny Leon, the four came together to create something that would fill that hole. For Ne-Yo that meant stepping away from the pressure of writing for a production that is so iconic. “I had to take off the concept of writing for The Wiz because you put yourself in this place where nothing is good enough,” he said. “Like nothing I write is going to be good enough to be incorporated into The Wiz.”
A standing ovation moment is how Music Producer Harvey Mason Jr. and Music Director Stephen Oremus described the performance despite there not being a live audience for the actual show. “This is a moment in a legendary production we were blessed to be a part of,” Kelley said making it clear it’s a moment not to be missed.
The Wiz Live! is a huge production and audiences will only be able to catch it once. David Alan Grier who plays The Cowardly Lion said of the whole production he was, “impressed by the humbleness you need for a project like this to be a success,” amazed at the amount of skill and talent in the crew and cast including Queen Latifah and Mary J Blige.
Acting through the heavy costuming was another challenge the actors had to face. “I didn’t see me,” Grier said of seeing himself for the first time in the full makeup and costume. “We disappear, but with that comes freedom meaning you don’t see me, so now I can create something from scratch,” he said.
They had the support of their director to create those characters. Ne-Yo said Leon thoroughly broke down their characters and helped them create depth and a backstory to each of them. “I didn’t have that before this, the ability to go into the layers of a situation or whatever the line is, whatever the scene is,” Ne-Yo said.
Leon is known for keeping all of the cast members in line as well. “If anybody is late from day one, everybody, stage mangers included, have to do ten pushups. If you don’t bring a prop on … everybody from Queen Latifah doing push ups. We’re the most in shape cast ever because we do pushups everyday” he said.
Leon hopes many kids will be able to experience the magic of The Wiz and the theme of embracing different types of families and love. So many kids have a “different family makeup but kids start feeling like if I’m not like them, if I don’t have a regular mom and dad then I’m less. So what makes this magical is that we embrace that. We start the story with that, and by the end of the night … you know it’s okay. It don’t matter what your family looks like. If you got some love, you’re all right.”
You can catch The Wiz Live! on NBC on Dec 3.