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The Wiz Live: 10 Craziest Moments From the NBC Musical Production

Dang, girl! After last year’s lukewarm production of Peter Pan Live!, this year’s The Wiz Live! turnt up the heat. Led by newbie Shanice Williams as Dorothy, the all-star cast — which included Amber Riley, Common, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, and Queen Latifah — delivered a flawless performance on Thursday, Dec. 3, packed with high notes, stunning costumes, and vogueing.

Some genius behind the scenes also managed to weave in references to having a squad, casting shade, and conversating (okay, that last one might have been the opposite of genius, but still). Here were the craziest and best moments from the nearly three-hour long production, including those sexy poppy flowers.

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1. Shanice Williams.

Technically, Williams is not a moment, but she is, without a doubt, a star. In contrast to The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan, which featured established actresses Carrie Underwood and Allison Williams in the lead roles, The Wiz took a chance on a virtually unknown teenager. After dropping out of her performing arts college, Williams flew home … and auditioned for The Wiz at an open casting call the next day. It’s safe to say that giving up on a school she wasn’t feeling was probably the right move. She completely slayed it — despite a rather awkward schoolgirl-inspired ensemble.

2. The monkeys. In leather bodysuits.

Also, they had glowing red eyes. That is all.

3. The (almost) NSFW dance performed by the poppy flowers.

This most definitely didn’t happen in the Judy Garland version of the tale. Clad in red fishnet bodysuits with strategically placed petals, the poppy flowers’ dancing — or, more accurately, gyrating — would have been as at-home in a strip club as it was on national TV. Somehow, though, having David Alan Grier decked out as the Cowardly Lion in the middle of the scene kept it feeling clean.

4. Dorothy talking her way into a club, aka The Emerald City.

This is a skill that every little girl should aspire to have, period. Also, speaking of the Emerald City, there was some seriously impressive vogueing going on there.

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5. “We Got It.”

ICYMI, this song wasn’t even in the original Broadway production of The Wiz, people! It was written by Ne-Yo, who played the Tin Man, and Elijah Kelley, who played the Scarecrow, as an addition to the show in the moment after Dorothy and her #squad learn they have to kill the Wicked Witch of the West if they want their wishes to be granted. If you didn’t know who Kelley was before tonight, you do now.

Shanice Williams as Dorothy in The Wiz Live!
Shanice Williams as Dorothy in The Wiz Live!

6. “Brand New Day.”

This song wasn’t brand new, but it did incorporate pretty much the entire cast onto one stage, managing to fit in one shot. Miraculously, the production crew was able to do this without losing any of the energy or emotion of the high-octane song. If you watched the show, this “Brand New Day” will probably be running through your head for the next several days.

7. Queen Latifah in a bathrobe and Uggs.

Disclaimer: They may or may not have been actual Uggs. Either way, though, Queen Latifah brought it as The Wiz and was at her best in her final few scenes when she was stripped of her snazzy green jumpsuit and Donald Trump-style gravity-defying weave. (Disclaimer: Not saying Trump wears a weave.) There was something truly charming about the Queen belting out her last few notes, probably because she looked like she was having the time of her life.

8. Dorothy’s feminist moment.

Dorothy’s male companions were rather stunned to discover that The Wiz was of the fairer sex, prompting Dorothy to bark, “What’s wrong with being a woman?!” You go, girl. She went on to offer some wise words beyond her girl power message, though, adding, “There’s nothing wrong with being a woman, but there is everything wrong with lying.” Oh, snap!

9. Crazy Eyes glammed out to the max.

She’s a long way from the women’s penitentiary of Orange Is the New Black. As Glinda the Good, Uzo Aduba sparkled, both literally and figuratively. Rocking a golden, fiber-optic-lit gown, the actress synonymous with Crazy Eyes perfectly captured the gentle, benevolent nature of the story’s most glamorous witch. Also, who knew she could sing?!

10. “Home.”

It’s the last song of the show, and it’s supposed to be a crowd-pleaser, so it’s not like the fact that it was should be such a surprise — but as a reminder, it was sung by a 19-year-old girl who had no professional acting or singing credits to her name just four hours ago! “‘Home’ is the big song that everyone’s waiting for, and it’s at the end of the show, so once I sing ‘Home’ and kill that, I’ll relax,” Williams told Us Weekly last month. She can consider her mission accomplished.

Tell Us: What did you think of The Wiz Live?

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