By Stacy M. Brown,
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA NEWSWIRE) – Nichelle Lewis, a 24-year-old entertainer and triple threat in theater, music and social media, will star in a revival of “The Wiz” on Broadway.
A seasoned actress who has appeared in “Hairspray” and showcased her vocal prowess on “American Idol,” Lewis reportedly captivated casting agents with her creative TikTok escapades.
Now the Virginia native has seized the coveted role of Dorothy.
The role places her in the prestigious lineage of iconic performers like R&B superstar Stephanie Mills and pop icon Diana Ross.
“It’s been a pretty crazy journey,” Lewis said in an Associated Press interview on Aug. 14. She added, “I’m honored to be making my debut as Dorothy. I know I’m following in some really big footsteps.”
“The Wiz” will soon begin a tour across the United States, starting in Baltimore this fall and heading to Broadway in 2024.
Lewis will act alongside Wayne Brady and Alan Mingo Jr., who will take turns playing the mysterious character known as the Wiz.
The cast also includes singer and actress Deborah Cox as Glinda, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tin Man, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow.
A graduate of Molloy University’s class of 2021, Lewis ingeniously harnessed the reach of her modest TikTok account to showcase her vocal range. One of her renditions, “Home” from “The Wiz,” resounded far and wide, reaching the ears of astute casting agents who promptly beckoned her to audition.
“I’m so excited that this is a part of my story, because I feel like there’s so many people out there who started out with such a small following, and I feel like they’re hard on themselves about it,” she said.
“But I’m like, ‘You never know who’s watching those videos.’ I never knew that ‘The Wiz’ was looking at my videos.”
“The Wiz,” an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s timeless “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” is a book by William F. Brown and is brought to life through the music and lyrics of Charlie Smalls.
Lewis acknowledged the importance of the heroine’s quest to discover herself in a strange world and said she supports others in finding their true selves.
“I feel like it’s extremely important for people, especially right now, to see that they can be powerful just by being themselves and just by being individual and unique,” she told the AP. “So, I think that’s how the show speaks to me.”
“The Wiz” originally debuted on Broadway in 1975, earning seven Tony Awards, including the coveted title of Best Musical. The production included memorable songs like “What Would I Do If I Could Feel” and “Ease on Down the Road.” It featured Mills as Dorothy, Dee Dee Bridgewater as the good witch Glinda, and Andre De Shields as the enigmatic Wiz.
The 1978 cinematic adaptation featured Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell and Ted Ross.
In 2015, a live televised rendition featured Queen Latifah, Ne-Yo and David Alan Grier.
With her mother embracing the news with jubilant tears and ecstatic exclamations, Lewis acknowledged the transformation her life may now take.
“She’s like, ‘Your life is going to change.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know. It probably will,’” Lewis said of her mother’s reaction. “ I feel so blessed, and I’m so glad I get to share it with her.”
This article was originally published by NNPA Newswire.