Black Twitter embraces 'The Wiz Live' directed by Atlanta's Kenny Leon

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, December 3, 2015

Twitter can be a tough crowd when it comes to live events. The past two years, social media critics had fun hate-watching and mocking NBC's live productions of "The Sound of Music" and "Peter Pan."

But surprise! Tonight's take on "The Wiz Live" worked so well, Twitter commenters were shockingly supportive and borderline gleeful. Viewers praised the acting, the costumes, the dancing and the singing. They even modernized it with iPads, references to sushi and squads and a female wizard. One minor complaint (and it may have had to do with the logistics of a live performance): not enough Toto!

In summary:

And this:

The production was based on the 1974 Broadway production of "The Wiz," which is a reimagined version of "The Wizard of Oz" with an all-black cast. Among the big names included Queen Latifah, Common, David Alan Grier, Mary J. Blige and Amber Riley. Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy on Broadway in the mid-1970s, came back to play Aunt Em in 2015. Unknown teen Shanice Williams carried the show as Dorothy. And Atlanta was represented with Ne-Yo as Tin Man and Kenny Leon as the director.

The show did well last night, pulling in a respectable 3.4 share among 18 to 49 year olds and 11.5 million total overnight viewers. It's not nearly as many as "The Sound of Music" two years ago (18.5 million) but better than "Peter Pan" last year (9.1 million).

And reviewers liked it, too. EW's Melissa Maerz wrote it was "impossible to hate watch" and gave it an A-minus.

Caroline Siede of the AV Club raved, "Now that's how you put on a show!" and also handed out an A-minus.