The Wiz was first conceived by producer Ken Harper. His idea was to create a modern retelling of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel, The Wizard of Oz, updated to reflect contemporary African-American culture. The production team included William F. Brown, who penned the musical’s book, and Charlie Smalls, who composed the music and lyrics (Timothy Graphenreed, Harold Wheeler, George Faison, Luther Vandross, and Zachary Walzer also contributed).
The Wiz premiered on October 21, 1974, in Baltimore, Maryland, before moving to Broadway. The show opened on January 5, 1975, at the Majestic