Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hotly-anticipated new stage version of classic film musical The Wizard of Oz, starring Over the Rainbow winner Danielle Hope and original Phantom Michael Crawford, opened tonight (1 March 2011, previews from 7 February) at the West End’s London Palladium, where stars on the special 'rainbow carpet' included Michael Caine, Barbara Windsor, David Frost, Charlotte Church, Rory Bremner, Christopher Biggins and Hope's fellow Rainbow constestants.

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The Wizard of Oz, best known from the 1939 Hollywood film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, has been “totally reconceived” and includes new songs written by Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice especially for it to add “extra colour to the story as it moves from film to stage”.

The production is helmed by the same creative team behind Lloyd Webber’s Whatsonstage.com Award-winning revival of The Sound of Music starring his first reality TV winner Connie Fisher – director Jeremy Sams, designer Robert Jones and choreographer Arlene Phillips.