‘The Wiz’ Announces Full Cast for Upcoming National Tour

In advance of its highly anticipated national tour this fall and Broadway return in the spring of 2024, producers Kristin CaskeyMike IsaacsonBrian Anthony Moreland, and Ambassador Theatre Group have announced complete casting for the all-new production of the Tony Award-winning hit musical The Wiz.

Alan Mingo Jr. will star in the role of the Wiz for the tour’s initial cities, followed by Wayne Brady, who will lead the production as the Wiz in San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as on Broadway in spring of 2024.

The cast also features Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman (A Strange Loop) as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson (Sharper, Apple+) as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson (The Voice) as the Scarecrow, respectively. Richardson and Wilson will be making their Broadway debuts.

Broadway newcomer Nichelle Lewis will star as “Dorothy.” Ms. Lewis who hails from Virginia, was discovered via a TikTok video, and selected from more than 2,000 submissions for the coveted role.

National Tour

The Wiz ensemble features Maya BowlesShayla Alayre CaldwellJay Copeland, Allyson Kaye DanielJudith FranklinMichael Samarie GeorgeCollin Heyward, Amber JacksonOlivia JacksonChristina JonesPolanco JonesKolby Kindle, Mariah LyttleKareem MarshAnthony MurphyCristina RaeMatthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, and Keenan D. Washington.

Featuring a book by William F. Brown and a Tony Award-winning score by Charlie Smalls (and others), director Schele Williams (The Notebook, revival of Disney’s Aida), award-winning choreographer JaQuel Knight (Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” Black is King), additional material by Tony-nominated and Emmy-nominated writer and TV host Amber Ruffin (“The Amber Ruffin Show,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers”), Joseph Joubert (music supervision, orchestrations, & music arrangements), and Allen René Louis (vocal arrangements, music arrangements) are conjuring up an Oz unlike anything ever seen before. A dynamite infusion of ballet, jazz, and modern pop will bring a whole new groove to easing on down the road. 

The Wiz design team will include scenic design by Academy Award-winning Hannah Beachler (Black Panther, Beyoncé’s Black is King and Lemonade), costume design by Emmy Award-winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated Sharen Davis (Ray, Dreamgirls), lighting design by Barrymore Award-winning Ryan J. O’Gara (Thoughts of a Colored Man), sound design by Jon Weston (Parade), projection design by Daniel Brodie (Motown the Musical) and wig design by Charles LaPointe (MJ the Musical).

Based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, The Wiz takes one of the world’s most enduring (and enduringly white) American fantasies, and transforms it into an all-Black musical extravaganza for the ages.

The Wiz premiered on Broadway in 1975 and became an instant sensation, going on to win seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Ted Ross), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Best Choreography (George Faison), and in a Broadway first, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design (Geoffrey Holder). “Ease on Down the Road” became the show’s break-out single, and “Home” has since become a bona fide classic. That original production ran for four years (first at The Majestic Theatre and later at The Broadway Theatre) – and 1,672 performances – on Broadway. A 1978 film adaptation starred Diana Ross, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Richard Pryor and Lena Horne, and marked Quincy Jones’ first collaboration with Michael Jackson.


Wayne Brady (The Wiz) multiple Emmy Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated Wayne Brady has made his mark on stage and screen as an actor, producer, singer, dancer, songwriter, and television personality. A true multi-hyphenate, Brady’s career path and personal life journey have helped him see the world in a unique way. His aspirations have always gone beyond solely starring in various entertainment projects, and under his Makin’ It Up Productions banner, he’s set out to create new content across different platforms that showcase innovation and inclusivity in fun and powerful ways.

A five-time Emmy winner (the first to win Daytime and Primetime awards in two consecutive years), Brady has an impressive TV resume including Whose Line Is It Anyway? The Masked Singer, Dancing With The Stars, Black Lighting, The Good Fight, and Showtime’s American Gigolo– each spotlighting different aspects of his immense talent. In addition to being a force in front of the camera, Brady is heavily active behind the scenes wearing the hats of host & executive producer for Let’s Make A Deal, Game of Talents, and Comedy IQ, which he also co-created.

All of this follows on the heels of the success of his award-winning daytime talk show The Wayne Brady Show. Long an accomplished singer and performer, Brady’s musical acumen has always been a personal passion and he used that as fuel to help win the second season of The Masked Singer. Off his victory, Brady dropped a brand-new original single, entitled “Flirtin’ w/ Forever,” which quickly climbed the streaming charts, as well as an accompanying music video. This follows the success of his debut album which was headlined by a version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” which earned him a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance category. Brady has also triumphed on-stage starting with his Broadway debut starring as legal showman ‘Billy Flynn’ in the long-running hit musical, “Chicago.” Soon after Brady starred as the ground-breaking character ‘Lola’ in “Kinky Boots,” Broadway’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical, with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Brady would later assume his biggest theatrical role to date headlining as ‘Aaron Burr’ in the Chicago production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning juggernaut “Hamilton.” Recently Brady returned to Broadway as part of Freestyle Love Supreme working with the production team of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Anthony Veneziale. The unique show combines the fusion of hip-hop, improv, and comedy which won it a special Tony Award for its innovation and contributions to the world of theater.

Earlier this year, Brady announced he will again partner with the Freestyle Love Supreme team as well as Speechless to create “FLS+,” a new company committed to making improv globally accessible. Brady’s career evolution has also expanded to TikTok, amassing a stellar following in a short period of time. Whether utilizing social media to raise awareness of important social issues or collaborating with his extended family, the medium has helped him continue to reach and interact with new fans in surprising and innovative ways.

Alan Mingo Jr. (The Wiz) best known for his Award winning performance as “Lola” in the Canadian and Broadway productions of Kinky Boots (Dora Award Winner, Best Leading Actor). Audiences may know Alan as “Maura Lee Karupt” in DC’s Doom Patrol on (MAX). He is currently starring in a newly released film as Maxi in “I’m Not Gay A Musical” available on all major Streaming platforms. Mr. Mingo’s other Broadway credits include: “Sebastian” in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and “Tom Collins” in Rent. Alan’s Broadway National Tour credits include: “Donkey” in Shrek the Musical, “Seaweed” in Hairspray, and “Simba” in Disney’s The Lion King. His other TV credits are: ”Honey” in The Deuce (MAX), “The Queen” in Tales of the City (Netflix), “Benjamin Carter Judges” in Ray Donovan (Showtime), Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix), Frasier (NBC) and Law & Order (NBC). Regional credits: Zaza/Albin in La Cage Aux Folles and The Wiz in The Wiz (Sacramento Music Circus), “Sergeant” in Pirates! or Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’s (The MUNY), “Papa Ge” in Once On This Island (Paper Mill Playhouse), A Christmas Story: the Musical (Kansas City Repertory Theatre) and The Wiz (La Jolla Playhouse). Proud Alumni of University of Maryland, B.A. and UC, Irvine, M.F.A. IG: @AlanMingoj

Nichelle Lewis (Dorothy) is a 24 year old native of Virginia, and thrilled to portray Dorothy in the revival of The Wiz, marking her Broadway debut. The New York based singer-songwriter has performed in the national tour of Hairspray (Dynamite/Cindy Watkins); Little Shop of Horrors (Chiffon/Crystal); Bare: A Pop Opera (Ivy); and most recently Labelless, a new musical. TikTok & IG @iamnichellelewis.

Kyle Ramar Freeman (Lion) is a Miami native who has been singing and acting from an early age. Now based in Harlem, Kyle made his New York debut in the Original Broadway Cast of A Strange Loop, a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Best Musical. Kyle is currently leading the cast of A Strange Loop in London. Other credits include: 1st national tour of Once On This Island (Asaka), Joseph and Dreamcoat (Calypso). Kyle is a graduate of AMDA. IG: iamkylefreeman

Phillip Johnson Richardson (Tinman) is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Phillip can be seen in the A24 feature film Sharper starring Julianne Moore, Sebastian Stan and John Lithgow streaming now on Apple+. He was a series regular in the Apple+ series “Little Voices.” His first job out of school was with the Chicago Company of Hamilton. His television appearances were guest appearances on “The Last O.G,” “Chicago PD,” “Provent Innocent” and “The Other Two.” Phillip has released several of his own singles on Apple Music and all streaming platforms under the moniker of “Phil.”

Avery Wilson (Scarecrow). The New Haven, Connecticut native spent his entire life working towards this moment. Encouraged by his family, he went from singing at McDonalds every Wednesday to dropping aseries of independent releases, culminating with “On Top of the World” in 2012. A year later, music legend Clive Davis personally signed him. Throughout 2015, he made headlines, performing at the BET Awards, and dropping “Change My Mind” [feat. Migos]. The latter impressively racked up 7.7 million Spotify streams and cemented a fervent fan base around him. Going independent, he maintained his momentum on 2018’s FYI EP before dropping the 8:34 EP in 2019. The latter received acclaim from Rap-Up, Soul Bounce, and more right out of the gate. Along the way, he continued to cross paths with Super Producers, and Songwriters Grammy Award-winning Claude Kelly, Damon Thomas, James Fauntleroy to work on hisupcoming music he will be releasing in 2023. IG: AveryWilson.

Deborah Cox (Glinda) is an award-winning recording artist, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee, and international talent spanning the worlds of music, Broadway, television, film, and fashion. An established songstress, Cox has scaled the R&B and Pop charts with six top 20 Billboard R&B singles and an impressive thirteen No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Chart. Her sophomore album spawned 2 No. 1 R&B songs including the record-breaking “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here” that spent 14 weeks at the top (the longest in history at the time) and “We Can’t Be Friends.” In addition to her illustrious musical catalog, the Canadian-born star has been recognized for her undying commitment to various social justice initiatives. In 2020, Deborah was honored with Black Music Honors’ Entertainer Icon Award in recognition of her twenty-five groundbreaking years in the music industry. A seasoned entertainer, both on-screen and off, Deborah is currently winning rave reviews for her roles on BET’s First Wives Club and Emmy-nominated HBO MAX series, Station Eleven. In May 2022, Deborah reached a pinnacle career milestone when she made history as the first Black woman inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In the same year, Deborah was given the Key to the City and had September 23rd declared as Deborah Cox Day. She also received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, rounding off an incredible year. As Deborah continues to perform on stages and screens internationally, she’s also working on her seventh career studio album and just launched her new wine, Kazaisu. For more information on Deborah visit www.deborahcox.com

Melody A. Betts (Aunt Em, Evillene) is a Chicago-based actress, singer/songwriter, writer and director. Last seen as Chantel in the sold out World Premiere of The Factotum at the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she also played Grandma Tzeital/Fruma Sarah in the most recent production of Fiddler on The Roof. Melody grew up singing in the church but spent years in classical voice training. She has refined a voice that possesses versatility and conviction which has the power to stir the soul. You can hear her mellifluous vocals on projects of worldwide favorites such as “Arrested Development,” Joshua Generation, “The Conan O’ Brien Show,” “I Can See Your Voice” and the Broadway Inspirational Voices. Chicago credits include Fannie, The Nativity (Goodman Theatre); Ragtime, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Boys from Syracuse, Seussical the Musical, ELF (Drury Lane Oakbrook); Once on this Island, Nunsense, All Shook Up, The Drowsy Chaperone (Marriott Lincolnshire); Comedy of Errors, Pinocchio (Chicago Shakes); Motherhood the Musical (Royal George); The Secret of My Success, Rock of Ages (Paramount Theater). Broadway/Off Broadway: Waitress the Musical (Brooks Atkinson); Invisible Thread (Second Stage). National Tours: The Sound of Music; Waitress. Regional Theater: The Color Purple, A Christmas Carol, Nunsense (Milwaukee Rep); Smokey Joe’s Café, Hairspray (New Theater); Witness Uganda, Extraordinary (A.R.T.). TV: Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE, “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Fire” (NBC), “I Can See Your Voice,” “Chicago Code” (FOX); Power” (STARZ), “Southside” (HBOMax). IG: @melodybettspage Unions: AEA, SAG-AFTRA, BMI.

Maya Bowles (Ensemble) is a proud Atlanta native and Point Park Alumna who is thrilled to be a part of The Wiz legacy! Broadway: Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Nothing would be possible without the love and support of her family, both given and chosen, and her incredible team at MMV Talent! @mayabowles

Shayla Alayre Caldwell (Ensemble) is a third generation native of New Haven, Connecticut. She began dancing at a very young age after being introduced to Guinean culture by her parents and dance mentor. She was accepted into the B.F.A. program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 2007. A few highlights of her dance career include representing the USA at the International Festival of Ballet held in Cali, Colombia, performing at the infamous Joyce Theater, Delacorte Theater in Central Park, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and being featured in The New York Times. She is overjoyed to premiere in her Broadway debut amongst so many talented people with the revival of The Wiz! IG: @salayre_jet.

Jay Copeland (Ensemble) is excited to be part of the original revival cast for The Wiz!  Recent stage credits include: Ain’t Misbehavin (“Andre”) Geva and Westport Theatres, Hairspray (Seaweed), Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas), and the opening act for Patti LaBelle in Concert 2022. In 2022, Jay was a contestant on ABC’s “American Idol” and was the first ever contestant to receive a Platinum Ticket (awarded to the top contestant in each of the 3 cities where American Idol held auditions).  Jay appeared in over 20 episodes and finished Top 7. Instagram @theejaycopeland and TikTok: theejaycopeland.  

Allyson Kaye Daniel (Ensemble) is a former Public School Music Teacher. Big thanks to Tara Rubin Casting. And of course the entire Wiz creative team!!! Broadway Credits: 1776 Revival.  National tours: Elf, The Color Purple. TV Credits: Manifest, Law & Order: SVU, Search Party, High Maintenance, and Living With Yourself. @akayedaniel

Judith Franklin (Ensemble) is honored and ecstatic to take this trip along the yellow brick road, a road she first traveled as a young girl from her living room as she watched her first musical, The Wiz! Judith is a graduate of Houston’s Grammy Award-winning High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Vocal/Dance) and Clark Atlanta University (B.A. Theatre). Her Broadway credits include Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. National Tours: Motown: The Musical, Straight Outta Oz, Madea On The Run. Off Broadway: TILL. Regional: Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dreamgirls, Memphis The Musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Company. TV/Film: “Blue Bloods,” “Dynasty,” “Sesame Street,”Superintelligence and more. She has performed throughout the United States, Caribbean, Africa, Europe and South America. Apart from stage and screen, as a proud member of Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV), she spends her time giving back as Coordinator of the Arts & Education Program through BIV in collaboration with Covenant House New York. www.JudithFranklin.com  IG @judithfranklin and TikTok @iamjudithfranklin

Michael Samarie George (Swing) is thrilled to be a part of this iconic show and talented team! Previously in Hamilton (Chicago), The Devil Wears Prada and other major stage productions, including professional choreography. She loves performing, producing and is truly passionate about making change through art. Michael wishes to thank her family, friends, and reps for their support. @michaelsamarie

Collin Heyward (Ensemble) is from Newport News, VA native, Collin, is elated to be joining The Wiz!  Broadway: Disney’s The Lion King. Regional: Memphis (NCT). TV/Film: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” American Music Awards, Black Nativity. Dance: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Instagram: @collinheyward 

Amber Jackson (Ensemble) is a multifaceted artist from Decatur, GA and is thrilled to be joining the cast of The Wiz. Broadway: WickedHamilton: An American Musical, The Devil Wears Prada. Off-Broadway: ctgla: Transparent the Musical. TV/Film: “Power Book III,” SoundtrackA Jazzman’s Blues, “So You Think You Can Dance,” “American Idol,” “Good Morning America,” “The Talk,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” Video Music Awards. @ambertiara                 

Olivia “Melio J.” Jackson (Ensemble) was born in Columbus, Mississippi in 1996. She grew up the middle child, raised by her amazing mother with a strong foundation rooted in their love for God. Olivia or “O.J” as some friends call her, has always been a performer since the day she was born. When her mom moved the family to Atlanta, GA in the early 2000’s is when she fell more in love with the arts and knew that she could truly thrive. Through hard work paired with her family’s support she has been able to make great accomplishments and she is now a professional dancer who graces stages across the world with amazing artists such as the iconic girl group Xscape, BBD, City Girls, Lecrae, and so many more. She’s an actress on the hit Starz Network series, “PValley” as “Toy”. She is now making her big Broadway debut!  @therealmelo.j 

Christina Jones (Ensemble) will be making her Broadway Debut! A proud poet, solo artist, and recent graduate of Boston Conservatory, Christina’s early career consisted of various vocal competitions (American Idol and Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY). Theatre: Cabaret (Ensemble), Shrek the Musical (Dragon), For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf (Lady in Yellow), The Rocky Horror Show (Janet Weiss), Once On This Island (Erzulie), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Charlaine Woodard), and Sister Act (Michelle/Deloris understudy). @ChristinaJonesOfficial

Polanco Jones, Jr. (Ensemble) is overjoyed to be making his Broadway debut in a show that aligns with his mission as a lifelong storyteller. He is an award-winning international theatre artist with a passion for creating contemporary socio-political work that heightens Black visibility. A New Orleans native, and 2020’s Big Easy Theatre Person of the Year, Polanco is thrilled to be a part of this adventure of heritage and innovation; which continues to allow him to stand on the shoulders of his ancestors. He would like to thank his family, friends, UMT, NOJM, CMWC and SAKS& management for their endless support. To God be the glory. Past credits include: Black No More (Off Broadway) IG@Imizpolancojonesjr

Kolby Kindle (Ensemble) appeared Off-Broadway: The Play That Goes Wrong (Trevor); Harmony. Original Australian Cast of Come From Away (Bob and Others). National Tours: WaitressThe Book of MormonSister ActDreamgirls, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, The Old Globe, MTW, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Arrow Rock Lyceum. Voiceover: South Park: The Fractured but Whole video game. @kolbykin

Mariah Lyttle (Dorothy U/S). Broadway: Bad Cinderella (Ensemble/Cinderella U/S). National Tour: The Color Purple (Celie). Regional: Dreamgirls (Lorrell) at Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL, Smokey Joe’s Café (BJ) at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA, Ain’t Misbeahavin’ (Armelia) at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT, The Wiz (Dorothy) at Virginia Repertory Theatre, Ragtime (Sarah) and Ain’t Misbeahvin (Self) at Park Playhouse in Albany, NY. Ithaca College ‘19, BFA in Musical Theatre. DGRW. For God, my family, my friends, and my students. Esther 4:14. www.mariahlyttle.com. @mariahlyttle!

Kareem Marsh (Ensemble) is a Philadelphia native who began his vocal and dance training at the age of 13. He has trained at various institutions in the state of Pennsylvania, under the tutelage of arts cultivators such as Joan Myers Brown, Dara Meredith, Shawn-Lamere Williams and Lucinda McCann. Kareem began his professional career dancing and touring with international dance companies such as Eleone Dance Theater, Waheed Works, and Philadanco, The Philadelphia Dance Company. He has traveled and performed in over 13 countries including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with Holland America Cruise Lines. In 2017 Kareem was featured in Dance Magazine highlighting his professional experience performing abroad. In 2021 he was also featured in the popular film adaptation of the musical In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Kareem is also an esteemed arts educator within the tri-state area. Since 2012 he has taught within the Philadelphia and New Jersey Public school systems choreographing various musicals, and curating many programs for the empowerment of our youth. @Kareemdances

Anthony Murphy (Ensemble) was most recently seen in the Lucille Lortel Award winning Off-Broadway Musical Titanique. Anthony was also a part of the World Premiere of The Devil Wear Prada the musical written by Elton John. Before that Anthony was featured as Paul Burrell in Diana The Musical on Broadway! Tour: Aladdin (Genie, OTC). Off-Broadway: The Pirate La Dee Da (Atlantic Theatre Company), Blue Plate Special (Ars Nova). @stanthonysings

Cristina Raė (Ensemble) born and raised in Nashville, TN. Heidi Klums’ Golden Buzzer and Top 3 on Americas Got Talent Season 15. Has been performing since the age of 7. Performing on many platforms like: Two-time 1st place winner at Amateur Night at the Apollo, CMA Fest, CMT Awards, The Stellar Awards amongst others. Numerous Off Broadway productions such as Dreamgirls, Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple, Fame, The Wiz, Little Shop of Horror as Crystal and so many more. She’s not just a performer, she’s a mother as well, to an amazing little boy named Jeremiah. She’s not just pursuing her dreams for herself and her son but for every child as well as adult, that needs proof that dreams really come true! Leaving her legacy is one of her biggest goals! The Wiz will not only be her debut on a national tour but also her Broadway debut! THIS IS BLACK EXCELLENCE! @CristinaRaeSing

Matthew Sims Jr. (Swing) hails from the great state of Louisiana but has lived in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. Matthew’s thrilled to have moved to OZ to meet this Wiz and make his Broadway debut! His recent credits include the National Tours of The Book Of Mormon and Motown:The Musical. Matthew is a performer to the core and is passionate about making the day of everyone he meets a little bit brighter. @matthewsimsjr

Avilon Trust Tate (Ensemble) is extremely thankful to be making his Broadway debut! National Tours: Mean Girls (Ensemble, U/S Duvall). Regional: R+H Cinderella (NSMT), Chess (MUNY. IG: @avilon.tate

Keenan D. Washington (Ensemble) also known as singer/ songwriter Little Town, is making his Broadway debut in The Wiz. The Miami, FL native began his theatrical training with Mrs. Tanisha Cidel and received his formal dance training in The Young Contemporary Dance Theater, under the direction of Mrs. Traci Young-Byron. He then went on to receive his B.F.A from The University of the Arts and is an alumnus of New World School of the Arts, The School at Jacob’s Pillow and Springboard Danse de Montreal. Awards: Honorary Webby Award winner for Hercules Muse Medley (YouTube) and NAACP ACT-SO gold medalist and national finalist. Tour: First National Tour of Hamilton: An American Musical (Angelica OG & Philip). Film/TV: Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (2023) and Praise This (Peacock), SuperBowl LVI (Kendrick Lamar) & LIV(Shakira), Dancing With The Stars, Masked Singer, NBC’s Peter Pan Live and Hairspray Live Background Singing and Dancing: Mariah Carey, Brandy, Lil Nas X, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande & more. @littletown.music

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