The Wizard of Oz
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For over a year, the London Palladium was home to one of the most well-known and loved stories of all time, The Wizard of Oz. Originally a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 and later adapted into a musical version for the big screen by MGM in 1939, The Wizard of Oz tells the bewitching tale of a girl named Dorothy from Kansas, who, along with her pet dog Toto, finds herself in a distant and magical land after a powerful tornado strikes her family’s farm house and whips her away to Oz. Meeting friends along the way such as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy journeys down the yellow brick road in search of the Wizard in the hope of finding her way back home to Kansas.
The new stage version of The Wizard of Oz, which played at the London Palladium, was adapted and developed from the classic 1939 film version starring Judy Garland, and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright. Featuring all of the songs associated with the 1939 movie and loved by young and old alike such as Follow the Yellow Brick Road, We’re Off to See the Wizard and of course, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz also included some surprises in the form of new songs written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. After opening in March 2011, the show was extremely popular due to its previous publicity on BBC1’s talent contest show, Over the Rainbow, in which Lloyd Webber set out to find himself the right Dorothy for the stage show. The production finally closed on 2 September 2012.
The cast for The Wizard of Oz included Michael Crawford and Des O’Connor as the Wizard. O’Connor is well-known as a TV personality and variety entertainer and has enjoyed a rich history of performing in musicals and plays. He recently enjoyed a West End stint in ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ at the Playhouse Theatre. The role of Dorothy was played by Danielle Hope and Sophie Evans, the winner and runner up of the BBC’s Over the Rainbow, respectively, both making their West End stage debuts as the girl from Kansas trying to find her way home. Other cast members included David Ganly as the Lion, Paul Keating as the Scarecrow and Edward Baker-Duly as the Tin Man.
“Technically, dramatically and emotionally, The Wizard of Oz glistens. I would go so far as to say it re-defines what a great West End show is. I am limited to giving it five stars today, but I would say it is off the scale – this is a 10-star production if ever there was one.”
Tim Walker, the Sunday Telegraph
“Danielle Hope, picked for the role of Dorothy by the public on BBC show Over the Rainbow, makes a winning impression. Her performance combines innocence with easy charm, and her voice soars.”
Henry Hitchings, the Evening Standard
“The star of the show is undoubtedly the set and costume designer, Robert Jones. The Kansas cyclone that whisks Dorothy into a dreamworld is evoked through vorticist projections (the work of Jon Driscoll) that betoken chaos in the cosmos. The Yellow Brick Road is on a tilted revolve from inside which poppyfields and labyrinthine forest emerge. The Emerald City is full of steeply inclined walls suggesting a drunkard’s vision of the Chrysler Building lobby. And the Wicked Witch of the West inhabits a rotating dungeon that might be a Piranesi nightmare.”
Michael Billington, the Guardian
If you are curious to see what the show was like, then why not view one of the videos below? These videos have been chosen by us from around the web for you to watch and enjoy!
Hi-definition footage from the London production of The Wizard of Oz, featuring the original cast performing ‘Merry Old Land of Oz’:
One of the new songs in the musical, sung by the Wicked Witch who was played by Hannah Waddingham. This creepy new song was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for the London production:
Add Your Review!
Did you see The Wizard of Oz after it opened at the London Palldium in 2011? Were you impressed by the scenery and choreography or did the musical leave you wishing you could click your heels, go home and put on the DVD instead? Add your review of the show in the comments box below!