Prepare to be taken back to your childhood in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest West End offering. After discovering Danielle Hope on BBC1’s Over The Rainbow, he’s invested a lot of time and imagination in the magical Wizard of Oz. Danielle skips through the production as Dorothy and while she doesn’t belt out the song she’s known for, Over The Rainbow, she hits all the right notes and maintains her American accent throughout.
Anticipation built to the first glimpse of legendary West End and screen actor Michael Crawford. But his appearance on stage first as Professor Marvel and then the Wizard of Oz was sadly underwhelming. Unfortunately, he failed to sprinkle any magic on the set and the American accent wobbled a number of times.
Instead, the show is stolen by Hannah Waddingham as Miss Gulch/ The Wicked Witch of the West who’s ability to make the audience shudder and laugh is sure to turn the other cast members green with envy. Her dramatic entrance in one scene results in an audible gasp and is a credit to the set designers.
Also giving a fine contribution are Edward Baker-Duly as the Tin Man, David Ganly as Lion and Paul Keating as Scarecrow. The trio provide much amusement as they set out on their quest to the Emerald City in search of a heart, courage and brain respectively.
Of course, it’s Toto who steals every scene especially when he struggles to keep up with the revolving yellow brick road as Dorothy sets off on her adventure!
The set itself is brilliant and the special affects which enable the twister to sweep Dorothy away are fantastic. The songs are obviously familiar to fans of the film while Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice contribute a number of original songs: Nobody Understands Me, Wonders of the World, Bring Me The Broomstick, Farewell of Oz and Red Shoes Blues – which is also brilliantly choreographed by none other than Arlene Phillips who deserves huge praise for her creativity through the production.
The story remains the same and with so many natural disasters in recent years the idea of a twister is believable while the yellow brick road is a dream. But it remains a fairytale which belongs in yesteryear. While Dorothy bangs on about there being ‘no place like home’ I happen to think she’s having a lovely gap year with her three new friends and might be better off staying with the Munkins than being back on the farm.
The Wizard of Oz, The London Palladium, visit www.wizardofozthemusical.com for tickets and further information.
by Jackie Ooh