The Follow Up Act: Part 1
After enormous audiences for their live renditions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan, NBC has announced their follow up live holiday show for 2015. After suggesting that they might be heading down the path of The Music Man, they have decided to ease on down a slightly yellower road as they tackle The Wiz with Cirque du Soleil. But the fun doesn’t stop there . . .
Before Wicked had a go at reimagining the classic Wizard of Oz, The Wiz took the traditional story and placed it in the heart of African-American culture. It was a commercial success on Broadway lasting four years and playing over 1,600 performances. As well as spawning a movie version led by music icons Diana Ross and Michael Jackson as Dorothy and the Scarecrow respectively. Now it is going back to the small screen in an NBC live holiday remake that has been updated for modern audiences.
But they are not surmounting this task alone.
Anyone would agree that remaking a movie which starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson would be pretty difficult to top. Especially when that movie is recreated live and broadcast across the country. However, NBC have recruited some big guns to accompany them on their journey down the Yellow Brick Road inviting circus-giant Cirque du Soleil on board.
Cirque du Soleil have a huge following outside the theatre world. But in reality they aren’t that far from the theatrical entertainment. They have taken the circus medium and thrown in their own theatrical elements which means that the audiences could easily transfer over into the musical industry and the circus techniques are now getting more accepted on the stage. In fact, Broadway’s reimagined circus-inspired Pippin is testament to this fact taking home numerous awards (including the Tony Award for Best Revival) and running for two years while featuring a classic musical theatre story told alongside circus tricks.
NBC had previously announced they were going to perform The Music Man at the end of this year. But after Peter Pan didn’t perform quite as well as the previous year’s Sound of Music it became clear that, while audiences appreciated the classics, they also wanted something a little more modern. The Wiz fits the bill exactly for the NBC audience providing the much-loved family story of Dorothy within a score that features pop and upbeat numbers more in line with contemporary music trends.
With Cirque du Soleil on board, a score full of upbeat tunes and the show that was good enough for both Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, it will be hard for NBC to miss this year. There is certainly enough value here to capture the broad ranging fans of these pop icons, the fans of the celebrities they will cast in the leading roles as well as those audience members who love the Cirque du Soleil spectacle that will surely shine through in this production.
NBC look like they are onto a winner this year!
The Wiz may be a follow up to the previous successes of NBC, but there is another follow up which was announced today. And this one is a doozy! Check back tomorrow to find out more . . .