Not In Kansas Anymore: How 'The Wiz' Made An Urban Classic

By Emily Morenz
Poster art for the movie version of 'The Wiz.' Source: impawards.com

Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and The Lion embarked upon a soulful twist on their adventure to the magical land of Oz in the 1975 musical The Wiz. The urban reworking of the 1900 book was set in New York City instead of Kansas, featured music inspired by the popular Motown sound and employed an all-black cast, which was almost unheard of at the time. The Wiz was a groundbreaking shift for black culture especially in the entertainment industry as it was the first Broadway show, and one of the first movies, to tell a joyful black story (with lots of joyful black music) that didn't trade in stereotypes.