Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Wiz Comes Back to Broadway


I was getting a pedicure earlier today and was horrified when I looked up at the TV. Not only were Kathy Lee and Honda going through their usual mindlessness, they were interviewing Ashanti about her upcoming role as Dorothy in New York City Center's revival of "The Wiz", beginning in June.

Color me livid.

A few months ago I was saying it would be amazing if they brought back The Wiz. But with Ashanti? If my memory serves me correctly, he last CD wasn't much of a success, and she doesn't even have the benefit of making tabloids in the off-season. Let's not forget the girl can't really sing all that well and who even knows if she can act. Plus, it's unfortunate how the music industry foists its less-than-spectacular performers on the stage (or into movies *cough cough* Beyonce). The stage carries a prestige that should be kept, and there are tons of performers who've paid their dues in other shows or at Juillard, Tisch, etc. And then they have the role of a lifetime swept from under them by this chick?

Dorothy is a role written for a powerful voice with great range, a voice that rattles the rafters, reaches to the very back of the theatre, shakes you to your core. Stephanie Mills did that. Obviously, I'm not old enough to have seen her on Broadway when the play opened in 1974 but I have the original cast recording and you can feel all that in her voice. Ashanti is not that girl. And wasn't Diana Ross bad enough in the movie version?

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