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Ashanti is off to see “The Wiz”
“Encores! Summer Stars” is a popular New York City annual event, where they take on Broadway shows for a limited run. Previously, classics like “Gypsy” and “Damn Yankees” have been brought to life. “The Wiz” is a new adventure into diversity, soul and rock for The New York City Center.
“The Wiz” is a remixed version of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, which tells the story of Dorothy, who is on a journey to find her way back home and discovers friends along the way. The 1934 film, starring Judy Garland, goes down in pop culture history; however, the 1974 musical simply titled, “The Wiz,” made a statement that had never been seen before on Broadway. The glitzy and glamorous production won seven Tony Awards, launched the career of R&B icon Stephanie Mills and proved there is an audience for African-American Broadway productions.
In 1978, “The Wiz” was made into a feature film starring Diana Ross and has become a cult classic in the African-American community.
Now, over 25 years after “The Wiz” debuted, Ashanti is making her stamp as Dorothy. At a preview at the New York City Center on Tuesday, the Grammy-winning songstress gave us a taste of her skills by tackling the powerful ballad “Home.” While Ashanti’s vocal skills have been critiqued in the past, the woman who was once labeled the “R&B princess,” hit those Broadway notes with relentless vigor.
“The Wiz” director, Thomas Kail, raved about Ashanti. “She’s fearless. That is the best way I can describe her. She came in and blew us away and continues to do so anytime I’m around her. With her energy, with her openness, with her willingness to just roll up her sleeves and get to work. I think she is going to teach me a thing or two.”
Ashanti says, "This is on a whole new level. It's so prestigious and you get so much respect. I can't wait to do it."
"The Wiz" cast also includes Orlando Jones, Dawnn Lewis from "A Different World" and "Everybody Hates Chris" star (plus, a BET favorite!) Tichina Arnold.