“The Wiz Live!” has found its Dorothy in newcomer Shanice Williams. The 18-year-old New Jersey native reportedly beat out hundreds of other hopefuls for the role of the Kansas farm girl who is swept up in a tornado and lands in the mysterious world of Oz.
According to NBC, Williams has appeared in local theater productions “West Side Story,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “42nd Street,” “Seussical” and “Pippin.” The up-and-coming performer was nominated for best leading actress in a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse’s annual Rising Star Awards in 2014 and has five years of extensive musical training.
Williams joins previously announced cast members Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier and Stephanie Mills. Latifah will play the titular Wiz, an intriguing and powerful wizard whose persona is not what it seems, while Blige will play the Wicked Witch of the West, Evilene. Grier is talking on the mantle of the Cowardly Lion and Mills is Auntie Em — though Mills originated the role of Dorothy in the original Broadway production of “The Wiz” in 1975.
“The Wiz Live!” will air Thursday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Check out Williams’ audition below.