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Classical Sprouts: The Wiz

We're headed to the Land of Oz today, but not in ruby red shoes!

Dorothy's donning silver slippers this time, in the iconic 1970s retelling of "The Wizard of Oz" - "The Wiz."


"The Wiz" isn't the first adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz."

The story started out as a book, written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, and met instant fame when the Judy Garland movie came out in 1930.

In the early 1970s, DJ Ken Harper imagined a new version of the musical, one that celebrated Black culture and Motown music.


Harper's "The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical ‘Wonderful Wizard of Oz'" opened in Baltimore and quickly made its way to Broadway, where it was a smash hit.

The production was vibrant: it featured a Black cast of actors, singers and dancers, popular music and bold, imaginative costumes and sets.

"The Wiz" ran for more than 1600 performances and was a favorite at the 1975 Tony Awards - it won seven, including best musical!

Poster celebrating The Wiz's Tony Award success.

In 1978, "The Wiz," headlined by Diana Ross, hit the big screen, and though it was initially a major box-office flop, it did become an iconic celebration of Black culture.

Learn more about the musical's cultural significance.

Hear music from "The Wiz" and find out more about the musical's plot on this week's episode!

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson. Kacie Brown is the digital content manager.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is the producer of "Kids Commute."