With 'The Wiz,' Cirque du Soleil looks to leap onto Broadway

.@Cirque looks to catapult itself onto Broadway with 'The Wiz'

NBC's broadcast of "The Wiz," which is set to air this fall, will serve as a platform for Cirque du Soleil to catapult itself onto Broadway.

Producers announced this week that the new production of the 1974 musical based on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" will be broadcast live on the peacock network on Dec. 3, followed by a run on Broadway during the 2016-17 season. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked on the network's previous live musical broadcasts, are returning to create the show in conjunction with Cirque, they said.

Last year, the Montreal-based Cirque set up a new theatrical division with the intent of producing Broadway-style shows to be seen in New York, London and on the road. Cirque du Soleil Theatrical is headed by Las Vegas theater impresario Scott Zeiger.

"The Wiz" is to be staged by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon and feature some new material written by Harvey Fierstein. 

Cirque's track record in New York has been uneven in recent years. Its 2010 production "Banana Shpeel" at the Beacon Theatre flopped following a reportedly troubled development period. The $20-million show, which was intended to be a long-running sit-down production, received negative reviews and closed after six weeks. 

An extended run of "Zarkana" at Radio City Music Hall in 2011 had a warmer reception. 

Before joining Cirque, Zeiger worked as an executive with Clear Channel and later co-founded BASE Entertainment. In Las Vegas, he has been instrumental in mounting "Jersey Boys,"  "Rock of Ages" and "Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular."

"The Wiz" will be the third live musical broadcast from NBC, following "The Sound of Music" and "Peter Pan."

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT  

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