More Wizard of Oz London Reviews

So The Wizard of Oz opened in London yesterday with a sort of press night and now the reviews are starting to come in thick and fast. Ignoring the preemptive reviews such as that in the Sun far too early on, what are the papers saying about Danielle Hope and The Wizard of Oz today?

Well the consensus seems to be that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard Of Oz has been met with broadly positive reviews from theatre critics.

The show, which features Danielle Hope in the role of Dorothy after she won TV talent show Somewhere Over The Rainbow, was unveiled to the media and a star-studded audience including Sir Michael Caine and Barbara Windsor at the London Palladium on Tuesday night.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts said the Manchester teenager was “more than efficient” in the lead role, praising her for her “clear, strong voice and a broad-shouldered confidence”.

The Independent’s Paul Taylor gave it four out of a five stars, and gave a special mention to the “endlessly endearing” terrier in the role of Toto.

A host of big-name stars attended the opening night of the Wizard of Oz.

Re-worked for the London stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the newly-opened musical sees BBC talent show winner Danielle Hope take on the lead role of Dorothy, while West End veteran Michael Crawford plays the Wizard himself and Hannah Waddingham braves the wrath of the audience as the Wicked Witch.

If opening night reviews are anything to go by, then the show is likely to prove a hit with theatre-goers between now and September 17th, when its scheduled run at the Palladium Theatre is due to come to an end.

Following on from a glitzy press night, which saw the likes of Charlotte Church pick up Wizard of Oz tickets and pop into the capital to see the show, the London Evening Standard declared: “This is a family musical with a gorgeous sense of spectacle, as well as being a polished essay in escapism.”

Already, however, some critics are saying that Dorothy’s dog Toto, played by a well-trained West Highland terrier, is the real star of the new show.

Theatregoers – who also included Phillip Schofield, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Winner and Duncan James – strolled up the rainbow-coloured carpet as they arrived to see the production at the historic Palladium theatre in London.

They were joined by several of the runners-up of the television talent show and Lloyd Webber himself, who looked somewhat like the Wizard of Oz in his green velvet jacket.

Jodie Prenger, who was Lloyd Webber’s Nancy in Oliver! after winning BBC show I’d Do Anything and helped in the nationwide search for a dog to star as Toto, said she could relate to any first night nerves Danielle might be feeling.

Speaking before the cast took to the stage, she said: “She’ll be petrified right now. But when she walks out on that stage you’ll see that they made such the right decision, because she’s just going to shine. She was just fabulous. And I can’t wait to see the dog.”

The show received a standing ovation after wowing the audience with spectacular technical effects, including a revolving stage, a fantasy tornado and monkeys flying through the stalls.

Michael Billington of the Guardian writes

.. I came out feeling blitzkrieged rather than charmed.

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.

Not since 19th century Drury Lane melodramas can London have seen anything quite like it; one has to admire the director and co-adaptor, Jeremy Sams, for marshalling the effects. But the story and the people get swamped. Danielle Hope shows a natural, easy presence as Dorothy, but can’t hope to compete with the scenery. Even Michael Crawford, playing both Professor Marvel and The Wizard, seems slightly subdued, and misses a trick by not highlighting the latter’s resemblance to PT Barnum whom he once played. Only two of the cast transcend the spectacle. Hannah Waddingham makes the Wicked Witch a pointy-chinned ogre who at one point flies over the audience’s heads with an elan that Spider Man might envy. David Ganly notches up a first by making the Cowardly Lion explicitly gay and announcing “I’m proud to be a friend of Dorothy.”

Of course, there are the songs; it’s good to be reminded of such classics as Over The Rainbow, We’re Off To See The Wizard, and Follow The Yellow Brick Road. The additions by Lloyd Webber and Rice are also perfectly acceptable. Dorothy is given a good plaintive opening number, and Red Shoes Blues, sung by the Wicked Witch, has a pounding intensity. But, as a film scholar remarked to me, the movie was a story with songs rather than a full-blown musical. That delicate balance has been changed, and an essentially simple fable about the importance of individual worth seems overblown.

I suspect in the end the show will be critic-proof and people will go to see both the winner of the TV talent contest and to luxuriate in the sumptuous visuals. But the paradox of the evening is that it suffers the same dilemma as the Tin Man: it might have been so much more if it only had a heart.

It’s Tonight! Wizard of Oz 1st Preview

Tonight, Monday February 7th 2011 is the night of the first preview for The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. Everybody is so excited!

Paul Keating:
Thank you for all the good wishes. 1st preview tonight. It’s a full house at The Palladium, so we’re in for a treat.

Of course there was a final dress run this afternoon:

Wizard of Oz was fab. Pretty impressive for a dress run. Still stuff to do but it’s gonna be awesome. Waddingham of course brilliant.

Interesting that Hannah Waddingham was picked out for a special mention there, the Wicked Witch of the West.

Avvon Chambers:
About to watch Tom Clare in the first preview of Wizard of Oz at the palladium! Ha ha!

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The Wizard of Oz crew and cast on BBC Radio 2

Wizard of Oz crew with Claudia Winkleman

Wizard of Oz crew with Claudia Winkleman

With the curtain about to rise on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz, we accompany some of of the cast and crew along the yellow brick road to discover more about the latest stage adaptation of one of the world’s best loved movies.

Claudia Winkelman’s Arts Show on BBC Radio2 will be accompanying some of the cast and crew along the yellow brick road tonight Feb 3rd at 22:00 to find out all about the latest stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz

Andrew talks The Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Set Moves Up and Down

Arlene Phillips, Choreographer for The Wizard of Oz writes on her blog about the set moving up and down. Intriguing. Can’t Wait

Hey everyone,

Just thought I’d check in and see how you’re all getting on this week and keep you posted on my latest news!

I’ve been totally wrapped up still in Wizard of Oz rehearsals and boy are they tough long days – but oh so exciting and I’m having the most wonderful time creating all the choreography. It’s a real challenge as the set moves every which way up and down, but don’t want to give too much away so I won’t say any more but watch this space!

Love to all

Arlene x


Wizard of Oz London Cast

The Full Wizard of Oz cast list has been announced today. Edward Baker and David Ganley fill in the missing pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that is the new cast for the London Palladiium production of The Wizard of Oz opening in March next year, 2011. And a very strong cast it is too.

It looks like the full Wizard of Oz London cast has been announced now with no new surprises.

Edward Baker-Duly is the Tin Man

David Ganly, The Cowardly Lion,

Paul Keating as The Scarecrow

Emily Tierney as Glinda

Hannah Waddingham as the Wicked Witch of the West

Michael Crawford as The Wizard and of course Danielle Hope as Dorothy

Wizard of Oz Cast

Danielle Hope talks Wizard of Oz on the Alan Titchmarsh Show

Danielle Hope was on The Alan Titchmarsh Show yesterday to talk about her upcoming role in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

Rehearsals start in six weeks time with previews starting on February 7th 2011.

Danielle Hope will be doing seven shows a week as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and is currently in training at the Arts Educational School.