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When NBC recently aired its live production of “The Wiz,", there was of course the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and Dorothy.
But if you kept your eye out, you might have also spotted a Camel.
Khadija Griffith ’11 performed as part of the ensemble in “The Wiz Live!” which aired Dec. 3 on NBC. The star-studded cast included Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley and Uzo Aduba. The production was directed by Kenny Leon and was adapted for television by Harvey Fierstein.
“The talent is through the roof,” said Griffith. “It’s been incredible to see world-renowned professionals work, share their process and grow together. But we’re all putting our heart into it—no holding back, no being star-struck.”
The Tony Award-winning musical is a retelling of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context. “The Wiz” premiered on Broadway in 1975, and was adapted into the 1978 film starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. It was revived on Broadway in 1984.
Landing the part in “The Wiz Live!” took an arduous audition process, Griffith said, involving dance, choreography and singing in the course of one day. When she learned she earned a role, she immediately called her mother, who coincidentally was part of the ensemble in the 1978 film adaptation of the musical.
“It’s such an honor to follow in her footsteps,” Griffith said.
Griffith, a dance major at the College, is a performer with “Fuerza Bruta,” a theatre show that combines live music and acrobatic displays. She has toured with the company to South Korea, England and Peru, and has danced alongside pop star Usher, who performed with the company in 2012. She has also performed with the College’s company-in-residence, David Dorfman Dance, led by dance professor David Dorfman MFA ’81.
“Khadija came to us with tons of talent and worked hard to continually develop her dancing ability, as well as herself, every day,” said Dorfman, who he added that he "marveled" when Griffith returned to teach several guest classes in the Dance Department last year. “At Conn, she showed interest in all types of dance and gave everything she had to all projects she was involved in—a dream student.”
The cast of “The Wiz Live!” performed a preview of the show during the recent Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Watch the performance of the song “Brand New Day.”