The 1975 Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was an early example of Broadway's mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast. It has had revivals in New York, London, San Diego and the Netherlands, and a limited-run revival was presented by Encores! at New York City Center in June 2009. A big-budget film adaptation of the same name was released in 1978, with Ted Ross and Mabel King reprising their roles, it has since become a cult classic. A live television production of the stage version, The Wiz Live!, was broadcast on NBC on December 3, 2015, with an encore presentation on December 19 of the same year.
The original Baltimore cast included Renee Harris as Dorothy, Charles Valentino as the Scarecrow, Ben Harney as the Tin Man, Ken Prymus as the Cowardly Lion, and Butterfly McQueen as the Queen of the Field Mice. Only Harney would remain in the Broadway cast, but in a much smaller role. Harris stayed on as understudy for the role of Dorothy, as did McQueen for the role of Addaperle.
After drawing mixed critical reviews, producer Ken Harper considered closing the musical after its Broadway opening night. One source attributes its turnaround success to a publicity campaign that included a TV commercial featuring the cast singing "Ease On Down the Road," a song that proved so popular that it was released as a single recorded by the disco group Consumer Rapport; The single hit the Billboard Soul Singles chart, peaking at #19 and the Hot 100, peaking at #42.
William F. Brown, who wrote the book, gave a more specific explanation in 1993: "20th Century-Fox, the musical's major investor, put in another $100,000 to keep it going and everyone agreed to royalty cuts until the production's cost—about $1.1 million—was recouped....By the eighth week, we were selling out."