First Look! Wayne Brady Comes Full-Circle in Broadway-Bound Revival of The Wiz: 'This Is the Dream' (Exclusive) (2024)

Wayne Brady is ready to see you now!

The five-time Emmy winner has stepped into the title role of the Broadway-bound musical revival of The Wiz, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at him in action.

Theater-goers can see Brady as the Wiz in the acclaimed musical's pre-Broadway National Tour, which is now playing through Feb. 11 at Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. It'll next come to Los Angeles' Hollywood Pantages Theatre from Feb. 13 to March 3 before beginning previews at the Marquis Theatre in New York City on March 29. Opening is officially set for April 17.

Doing The Wiz is a full-circle moment for Brady, he tells PEOPLE on Thursday in a call made the day after he debuted in the production.

"This show is a benchmark, and not just for me, but for a lot of Black performers," Brady says. "That was the first time we such amazing singing and dancing on a screen from people who looked like us."

'The Wiz' Revival Starring Wayne Brady Sets Broadway Premiere Date

Based on L. Frank Baum's beloved children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975 and became an instant sensation, audiences praising it for transforming one of the world's most enduring American fantasies into an all-Black musical extravaganza. Charlie Smalls' score blended '70s funk with soul, gospel, and rock, and spurred well-known hits like "Ease on Down the Road" and "Home." It took home seven Tony awards including best musical.

In 1978, a film adaptation starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Mabel King, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne (among others) hit theaters and became an acult classicamong audiences.

That's how The Wiz came into Brady's life. "I'd grown up loving musicals," he recalls. "I watched them all, from West Side Story to Guys & Dolls, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers — you know, these classic shows that we were told, 'These are the greats.' And then, I got to see The Wiz. And it when I saw that, a light bulb turned inside of me and like a lot of other performers I was like, 'Oh. That's what I want to do.' "

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First Look! Wayne Brady Comes Full-Circle in Broadway-Bound Revival of The Wiz: 'This Is the Dream' (Exclusive) (2)

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When producers beginning planning for a Broadway revival — its first in 40 years — Brady got the call from director Schele Williams to be a part of the workshop. Alan Mingo Jr. has been playing the part since the tour kicked off last fall, in Baltimore.

"What's amazing about the process is that Alan Mingo Jr. has been absolutely stellar in doing this on the road. But now I've got the challenge where you join something and go, 'Okay, how I am going to make this mine?' " Brady says. "And I'm still discovering that, you know? I keep thinking about a conversation I had with Schele. She said, 'Wayne, when I thought of the Wiz, I thought of you. You were the phone call.' So to me that means, I just have to bring my sense of childlike play and my sense of fun to it."

"He is the Wizard, so I want to make him a likable. But I want to make him a little bit dangerous, too, because the first song that he sings is about all these things that he can do to you," Brady adds. "And we know that he's a flim-flam man, so I want him to have that air of, 'One minute he's happy, one minute he's trying to lure you in, the next minute he's down with you and he's your brother and the next minute, he's too good for the room.' If I can do all that and at the end of the day have fun, then that's what I'm going to do."

In addition to Brady, The Wiz stars Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda, Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow.

The ensemble includes Mingo Jr. plus Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, Michael Samarie George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson,Olivia Jackson, Christina Jones, Polanco Jones, Kolby Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Cristina Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, Keenan D. Washington and Timothy Wilson.

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This will be Brady's fourth time on Broadway. He made his debut as Billy Flynn in the long-running revival of Chicago back in 2004, and went on to play an acclaimed run as Lola in Kinky Boots. Most recently, the Whose Line Is It Anyway? breakout flexed his improv skills as part of the cast of Freestyle Love Supreme.

But no matter how many times he does it, Broadway "never gets old," he says.

"This is the dream," Brady tells PEOPLE. "Believe me when I tell you, I'm excited anytime an opportunity like this comes up. I don't care how much success I've had, 16-year-old Wayne is still giddy over seeing his name on a dressing room door, seeing his picture out front a theater, seeing his name on a marquee, knowing that this is Broadway. It always fells fresh."

And The Wiz, being the musical that inspired his desire to perform in the first place, is icing on the cake. "I'm not just doing a show cause the actor Wayne wants to be in a show. I'm part of something historic," he notes. "I get to be part of this beautiful machine that takes this show back to Broadway after 40 some odd years withSchele Williams making history as the first Black woman to have two musicals on Broadway at the sam time as a director [The Wiz and The Notebook]. With Amber Ruffin as our writer [adding additional material to William F. Brown's book] and JaQuel Knight as our choreographer. It's incredible."

First Look! Wayne Brady Comes Full-Circle in Broadway-Bound Revival of The Wiz: 'This Is the Dream' (Exclusive) (3)

Mostly, Brady is hopeful he can inspire the next generation of performers, in the same way The Wiz inspired him.

"That's how I approach all of my work now," says Brady. "I realize there's some kid — some little boy, some little girl, someone who is sitting there going, 'How do I get from where I am to that stage, because that's all I want?' And I want them to know, 'If he can do it, then I can do it,' because that's what I was missing as a kid."

"That's what The Wiz meant to me," he adds. "I didn't see that elsewhere. I needed to see things like The Wiz. I needed to see Diana Ross and Michael Jackson singing and dancing. And later, I needed to see Ben Vereen saying to me from the screen, 'This is what you can do.' So if I can be that for anyone, then hey, I've then done my job on the planet."

Tickets for The Wiz are now on sale.

First Look! Wayne Brady Comes Full-Circle in Broadway-Bound Revival of The Wiz: 'This Is the Dream' (Exclusive) (2024)


Was Wayne Brady in Hamilton? ›

Wayne Brady portrayed Aaron Burr in the Chicago Production of Hamilton from January 17 through April 9, 2017.

Who does Deborah Cox play in The Wiz? ›

Grammy nominee Deborah Cox, currently co-producing and starring as Glinda in the Broadway-bound touring revival of The Wiz, performs "Believe in Yourself" as part of the Tamron Hall Show's October 31 Hall-O-Ween Extravaganza.

Who is in The Wiz on Broadway? ›

  • NICHELLE LEWIS. Dorothy. ...
  • WAYNE BRADY. The Wiz. ...
  • DEBORAH COX. Glinda. ...
  • MELODY A. BETTS. ...
  • AVERY WILSON. Scarecrow. ...
  • LAURYN ADAMS. Swing.

Where is The Wiz touring in 2024? ›

The Broadway-bound revival of The Wiz has found a theatre and set dates, with previews beginning March 29, 2024 at the Marquis Theatre ahead of an April 17 opening night. Schele Williams directs the new production of the 1975 musical, which launched a national tour from Baltimore's Hippodrome September 23.

Why wasn t Ben Franklin in Hamilton? ›

Most practically, he was nearly 50 years Hamilton's senior, and he passed away in 1790, so his significance would naturally have fallen off in the latter half of the show - and if George Washington's death song was cut, Franklin's passing would certainly have been overlooked.

Who did Wayne play in Hamilton? ›

Wayne Brady on Playing Aaron Burr in 'Hamilton' & Hollywood: 'I Feel His Struggle'

Who was supposed to be Dorothy in The Wiz? ›

Gordy originally wanted the teenaged future R&B singer Stephanie Mills, who had originated the role on Broadway, to be cast as Dorothy. When Motown star Diana Ross asked Gordy if she could be cast as Dorothy, he declined, saying that Ross—then 33 years old—was too old for the role.

Who will play Dorothy in The Wiz 2024? ›

The Broadway cast will feature Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A.

Who was the dog in The Wiz? ›

Terry (November 17, 1933 – September 1, 1945) was a female Cairn Terrier performer who appeared in many different movies, most famously as Toto in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Is The Wiz a good musical? ›

Out of 196 ratings, The Wiz has an 84% approval rating from audiences on Show-Score at the time of publication. Audiences largely praised the cast and classic material but shared mixed opinions on the new elements of this production.

Did Diana Ross star in The Wiz? ›

Ease on down the yellow-brick road with The Wiz, starring superstars Diana Ross and Michael Jackson! Relive all of the magic of this beloved musical when Dorothy is whisked away to the enchanting wonderland of Oz, where she encounters the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Lion.

How old was Michael Jackson in The Wiz? ›

In 1977, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross filmed the Wiz in New York. He was 19 years old. Diana Ross, while filming The Wiz, was asked to Michael Jackson's apartment in New York and stayed the night.

Is The Wiz musical kid friendly? ›

The scene might be a little uncomfortable if you're watching with your kids/parent(s), but other wise it's perfectly harmless and non-sexual, just dancing you see in a Broadway show or maybe a ballet (where people often wear tight clothes, yet who is complaining about that?).

How long did The Wiz run on Broadway? ›

The Broadway production moved to The Broadway Theatre on May 25, 1977, and closed on January 28, 1979, after four years and 1,672 performances.

What changed in The Wiz revival? ›

“The Wiz” celebrated its return to Broadway on Wednesday night, but where was Toto? One of the most notable changes in the new revival, a re-imagining of “The Wizard of Oz” with a Black cast, is that Dorothy is older — and without her little dog, too.

Who all played in Hamilton? ›

Cast (21)
  • Daveed Diggs. Marquis de Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson. Renée Elise Goldsberry. ...
  • Jonathan Groff. King George. ...
  • Jasmine Cephas Jones. Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds. ...
  • Leslie Odom Jr. Aaron Burr. ...
  • Anthony Ramos. John Laurens / Philip Hamilton. ...
  • Carleigh Bettiol. Ensemble. ...
  • Hope Easterbrook. Ensemble. ...
  • Sasha Hutchings. Ensemble.

Who plays Mr Jefferson in Hamilton? ›

Hamilton (2020) - Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson - IMDb.

Who is the original Aaron Burr in Hamilton? ›

played Aaron Burr in the original run of "Hamilton." Now he's finally back on Broadway as the lead in "Purlie Victorious," a 1960s play by Ossie Davis that sets its satire in the Jim Crow South.

Who is the main guy in Hamilton? ›

Miranda won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the musical, and the Hamilton cast album won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. In May 2016, for his work in the role of Alexander Hamilton, Miranda received the Drama League Distinguished Performance Award.

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