As previously tipped, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s forthcoming revival of The Wizard of Oz, which will star the winner of his current BBC One competition Over the Rainbow, will follow Sister Act into the London Palladium, where it is due to start performances on 7 February 2011, with press night on 1 March.
Producers have struck an exclusive deal with the Sun and News of the World newspapers whose readers have been given advance access to tickets, ranging from £25 to £62.50. Public booking will open on 9 May 2010.
L Frank Baum wrote the first 1903 stage version of his 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The story is best known from the 1939 Hollywood film. The stage musical version, adapted by John Kane from the Warner Bros movie, was premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican in 1987, with a young Imelda Staunton as Dorothy. It has music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and EY Harburg.
The Wizard of Oz last had a major London outing at the Royal Festival Hall in summer 2008, when Sian Brooke played Dorothy in a cast that also featured Gary Wilmot, Adam Cooper and Roy Hudd. No further casting or creative details have yet been announced for The Wizard of Oz though it’s expected to be directed by The Sound of Music’s Jeremy Sams and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, with some new songs specially written for it by Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater.
Following the formula of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything - which found Connie Fisher, Lee Mead and Jodie Prenger for West End productions of The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Oliver! - Over the Rainbow has been searching for Dorothy (and Toto) for The Wizard of Oz since 26 March.
Since the audience attended studio shows began on 3 April, the format has been for the publicly voted sing-offs to be aired live on Saturday evenings with the results shows broadcast on Sundays. Currently, seven finalists remain. The winner will be crowned at the end of May. Lloyd Webber’s judging panel for Over the Rainbow consists of Charlotte Church, John Partridge and Sheila Hancock, whose own current show, Sister Act, will close at the London Palladium on 1 January 2011 to make way for The Wizard of Oz (See Today’s Other News).