amBroadway | ‘The Wiz’ coming to Broadway, Actors’ Equity seeks to unionize production assistants and more

"The Wiz" is coming to Broadway.
“The Wiz” is coming to Broadway.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

‘The Wiz’ will ease on down to Broadway

The new national tour of the “The Wiz,” the upbeat African-American retelling of “The Wizard of Oz,” will open on Broadway before the end of the current season, beginning previews at the Marquis Theatre (recently home to the Britney Spears musical “Once Upon a One More Time”) on March 29. The tour just kicked off in Baltimore, where the original production received its world premiere nearly 50 years ago. The cast includes Nichelle Lewis (who rose to fame via TikTok) as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda, and Wayne Brady as The Wiz. It has direction by Schele Williams (“The Notebook,” “For Colored Girls”) and choreography by JaQuel Knight (Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”). The last production of “The Wiz” to play New York was in 2009 at City Center with Ashanti as Dorothy, directed and choreographed by Thomas Kail and Andy Blankenbuehler respectively in between their work on “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.”

‘Mean Girls’ movie musical will debut in theaters

The upcoming film adaptation of the “Mean Girls” musical (which itself was adapted from the 2004 high school film comedy) will no longer premiere on Paramount Plus and will instead first be seen in movie theaters in early 2024, as first reported by Deadline.com. The cast will include Renée Rapp (who appeared in the Broadway production) as Regina George and Jaquel Spivey (“A Strange Loop”) as Damian. Tina Fey, who wrote the original screenplay and the musical’s book, will play Ms. Norbury, as she did in the original film.

Actors’ Equity seeks to unionize production assistants

Actors’ Equity Association, which has made news recently with its efforts to bring strip club performers into the fold of its union, is now seeking to represent the production assistants on Broadway. It is worth noting that in addition to professional actors, Equity also represents stage managers. The production assistant (also known as a PA) is an outlier in commercial theater, where virtually every other position is already unionized. Last week, Equity announced that it is seeking voluntary recognition from the Broadway League as the collective bargaining representative for PAs. “Every one of these workers, whether their title is production stage manager, stage manager, assistant stage manager or production assistant, is a skilled professional and essential to the (stage management) team. And yet, production assistants have stood alone for too long as the only members of these teams without the basic protections of union contracts – without safe and sanitary workplace requirements, without protections against harassment and discrimination, without living wages, without health and pension benefits,” Erin Maureen Koster, 3rd vice president of Equity, said in a statement.

Free Broadway concert in Bronx rescheduled to Oct. 15

“Broadway Forever,” a free concert at Lou Gehrig Plaza in the Bronx that was scheduled for Sept. 24 and cancelled due to severe weather concerns, has been rescheduled to Sunday, Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. The performers who had been slated for Sept. 24 included Jordan Fisher (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Adam Pascal (“Rent”), and Rachel Webb (“& Juliet”). An earlier “Broadway Forever” concert on Sept. 17 at Plaza de Las Americas in Manhattan featured Norm Lewis (“Porgy and Bess”), Cheyenne Jackson (“Xanadu”), and Casey Cott (“Moulin Rouge!”).