Thursday, March 3

Hannah Waddingham stands out for me in The Wizard of Oz

Well Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz has opened to the usual mixed reviews but I must admit that I loved every minute of it.

There are some extraordinary sets and costumes created by Robert Jones for Dorothy's adventures along  the yellow brick road.  Like the film the stage show starts off in black-and-white and then bursts into vivid colour. Everything is dull and khaki in Kansas, but as soon as Dorothy sets off the road to Oz everything is bright and dazzling colour. The Emerald City glows in every possible shade of green and the Wizard's chamber resembles a Gotham skyscraper.

It has all the original songs by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, as well as four new numbers by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to fill a few gaps. "Nobody Understands Me" is a scene-setter at the start for Dorothy and "Red Shoes Blues" is a real show-stopper for the Wicked Witch of the West played by Hannah Waddingham (completely unrecognisable as pictured).  For me she stands out in the cast with powerful her larger than life performance and the panache with which she rides her broomstick high above the audience.  I also loved her lair full of marching masked soldiers.

Michael Crawford has two new songs: “Wonders of the World” which he sings in his guise as Professor Marvel when he is trying to persuade Dorothy to stay at home before the storm breaks and as the Wizard he chants "Bring Me the Broomstick” at the end of the first act.

The show is currently booking until September, but I suspect the booking period will be extended very shortly as this show should certainly run and run.

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