‘The Wiz’ Broadway Revival Doesn’t Include Toto

“The Wiz” celebrated its return to Broadway on Wednesday night — but where was Toto?

The re-imagining of “The Wizard of Oz,” featuring a Black cast, originated on Broadway in 1974 followed by the 1978 movie starry Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man and Theodore Ross Roberts as the Lion.

Schele Williams, who directs the new adaptation, said this version took hold when they made Dorothy a little older. “What I immediately thought about is what happens if we age Dorothy up a little bit, then we can raise the stakes,” Williams told Variety.

One of the most notable changes in Broadway’s “The Wiz” is the absence of Dorothy’s dog Toto. “When we think of a dog, you think about a companion. Someone that allows you to feel safe, and I just wanted it to be a little bit more dangerous,” Williams said. “I wanted her to have nothing, and really have to seek out friendships. We really have to be braver, to face different challenges. it’s different when it’s a little girl whose seven or eight, you kind of want that kid to have something that makes them feel safe. But when they’re 16 and 17. You can require them to really go on a solo track.”

“The Wiz” features Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Wayne Brady as The Wiz, Deborah Cox as Glinda, Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em, Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as Tin Man and Avery Wilson as Scarecrow.

Shows like “Hell’s Kitchen ” and “A Strange Loop” have helped diversify Broadway productions and audiences. The “Wiz” cast hopes their show will do the same.

“I think for these future generations that see this production, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I can do that too.’ And that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do is just inspire people to just do it. No matter who you are, where you come from, how much money you have, just go for it because you never know what can happen,” Wilson told Variety.

Producer Brian Moreland said, “When there’s representation on the stage, you get representation from your community, and then all of a sudden, that audience looks like the community in the world, which is multicultural and beautiful,” he said.

Guests at the opening Wednesday night included Hillary Clinton, Anna Wintour, Tamron Hall, Common, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin and Sherri Shepherd.

Deborah Cox, Wayne Brady, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Nichelle Lewis, Avery Wilson, Kyle Ramar Freeman and Melody A. Betts pose onstage
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Wayne Brady performs onstage
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Avery Wilson poses onstage
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Kyle Ramar Freeman poses onstage
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Deborah Cox poses onstage
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Phillip Johnson Richardson poses onstage
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