It’s almost time for Dorothy Gale and her friends to ease on down the road in the latest adaptation of “The Wiz.” Shanice Williams, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah, Common, Mary J. Blige and more are starring in NBC’s live staging of the show, which airs tonight at 8p.m. EST.
We caught up with costume designer Paul Tazewell (who has some serious Broadway credits for the costumes in “Hamilton,” “Memphis” and “A Raisin in the Sun”) to talk about designing for Dorothy and her friends and what those silver slippers will look like on screen.
How did you think about dressing such an iconic cast and show?
“We wanted it to be for a teenager today. We wanted Dorothy to look like any other teen growing up in the Midwest in 2015. As we go into the land of Oz, then those images reference in a subtle way things we see today — it had a bit of a modern quality to it, as opposed to feeling like the 1970s movie or original Broadway show.”
Where did you get your inspiration?
“I got of a lot of it from contemporary fashion and runway and couture. I think it runs the gamut of who we referenced — anybody that had an edgier feel we looked at. As you look through the designs for ‘The Wiz,’ there is a McQueen-esque ballgown, but really it’s just taking contemporary fashion and synthesizing it into its own aural of design.”
Sneakers are featured prominently in this show. Why?
“A lot of the dancing has a hip-hop taste to it, so it made sense to us to have them in a sneaker type footwear. I liked using a lot of dress sneakers because they tended to be a bit more interesting, but we did use regular street sneakers, too.”
What can you tell us about those silver slippers?
“We were trying to arrive at a shoe that looks magical and functions, too. Shanice has to get it on very quickly and has a lot of dancing to do in that shoe, so it has to be built like a Broadway dance shoe. To get it to look like a faceted silver shoe, we picked a leather that has a sort of Mylar finish to it. It’s a bit of a patchwork of different leathers that when they lay together, they create [the look we wanted].”
Any other scoops you can give us on the costumes?
“Glinda’s dress actually lights up with fiber optics. It was a huge challenge to work with the electrician and people who really understand LED and making things radio controlled, but that was so cool and something I’d never done before.”
This is live TV — any nerves ahead of time?
“There are a lot of different people trying to make sure that everyone hits their mark at the right time: hair, makeup, costume. It’s similar to Broadway because it’s real time, but the thing we don’t have is an intermission. We don’t get 15-20 minutes extra — it’s just built into the show, so it’s definitely different.”