We’re off to see the Wizard – and it’s Michael Crawford!

MICHAEL CRAWFORD is to star as The Wizard in ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’s new production of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Michael, internationally renowned for originating the title role in The Phantom of the Opera and loved by millions for his role as the hapless Frank Spencer in the classic British sitcom, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, will star alongside DANIELLE HOPE, the winner of the BBC’s smash hit Over The Rainbow, when the show opens at the LONDON PALLADIUM next year.

Danielle captured the hearts of the country and will now step into the ruby slippers of Dorothy, the role immortalised by Judy Garland.

They will be joined by Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and Dorothy’s little dog Toto – as the most magical adventure of all comes to the West End. With brand new songs by ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER and TIM RICE, The Wizard of Oz previews from Monday 7th February 2011 (Press Night: Tuesday 1st March at 7pm).

An eagerly anticipated new addition to London’s West End, The Wizard of Oz promises to be the biggest theatre event of the year. Developed from the ever-popular 1939 MGM screenplay, The Wizard of Oz is an enchanting adaptation of the all-time classic, totally reconceived for the stage by the award-winning creative team who delighted audiences of all ages with their recent London Palladium revival of The Sound of Music.

This new production, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright, contains all the much-loved songs from the Oscar-winning movie score including; ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’, ‘If I Only Had a Heart’ and ‘We’re Off to See the Wizard’. All the favourite characters and iconic scenes are there, plus a few surprises along the way – not just “lions and tigers and bears” but some new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice adding extra colour to the story as it moves from film to stage, as well as marking the first time they have worked together in over 30 years on a new production. Audiences will be captivated as The London Palladium is transformed into the mythical Emerald City with breathtaking special effects and scenery to bring to life the real story of Oz.

The London Palladium, arguably the world’s most famous theatre and this year celebrating its 100th birthday, is a great favourite with performers and audiences alike and has a very rich entertainment history presenting variety, pantomime and spectacular family musicals. Just one aspect of the elaborate stage design for The Wizard of Oz will be a restoration of the legendary revolving stage which everyone remembers from the finale of Television’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said, “We will be going a lot further than simply presenting the movie on stage. We have re-visited the original novel and re-conceived our “Oz” as a piece of new musical theatre using the wonderful Arlen/Harburg songs and adding a few new ones where there are gaps.  I am really looking forward to bringing The Wizard of Oz to life on stage. I am delighted that Michael Crawford, a legend of musical theatre, will take on the role of the Wizard and can’t wait to work with him once more”.

Michael Crawford said, “I didn’t hesitate at all when Andrew asked me to take on the role of the Wizard. Working with him and Tim on a brand new production of this timeless classic is so thrilling and I am already looking forward to starting rehearsals later in the year.”

Michael Crawford’s hugely successful career spans four decades, and includes his unforgettable performance in the hit show Barnum at the London Palladium, and the role of Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White. He is a multi Olivier and Tony-award winning star whose acclaim encompasses theatre, television and film and he was appointed an OBE in 1988.

The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum is directed by Jeremy Sams, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, with additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice with the set and costumes designed by Rob Jones.

Tickets are available from The London Palladium Box Office on 0844 412 2957 or online from www.wizardofozthemusical.com.

Further news will be released in October.