Theatre News

Aston Merrygold and The Vivienne to star in The Wizard of Oz at Liverpool Empire

Initial stars for the first stop of the touring version of the West End hit have been confirmed

Aston Merrygold and The Vivienne, photo supplied by the production
Aston Merrygold and The Vivienne, photo supplied by the production

The hit staging of The Wizard of Oz has revealed casting for its six-week first stop on its major tour – which comes following its summer season at The London Palladium.

Featuring numbers from the iconic original score by Harold Arlen and E Y Hardburg, including “Over The Rainbow”, “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” and “We’re Off To See the Wizard”, the musical also has additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

It received a glowing review in Leicester from WhatsOnStage, being described as “sheer theatrical wizardry and far too good to miss.”

Directed by Nikolai Foster (Billy Elliot The Musical, A Chorus Line), The Wizard of Oz has choreography by Shay Barclay, set design by Colin Richmond, projection design by Douglas O’Connell, costume and puppet designer by Rachael Canning, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Adam Fisher, creative consultancy by Mark Kaufman, musical direction and supervision by George Dyer, casting by Debbie O’Brien, props supervision by Marcus Hall Props, and wigs, hair and make-up design by Elizabeth Marini.

The show will open with a festive season at Liverpool Empire from 13 December 2023 to 7 January 2024, ahead of the tour visiting (with additional tour stops confirmed today) Oxford, Southampton, Hull, Sheffield, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Southend, Norwich, Llandudno, Bradford, Plymouth, Bristol, Nottingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Woking, Belfast, Aberdeen, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Wolverhampton and Sunderland.

Appearing in the show in Liverpool will be JLS and Strictly star Aston Merrygold, taking on the role of the Tin Man, while original champion of the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK The Vivienne will take on the role of the Wicked Witch of the West. Further casting for Liverpool, and for all roles for the remainder of the tour, will be revealed soon. 

Merrygold said today: “Liverpool is such a special place to me and my family, it was only a year ago that I got married there! The Wizard of Oz is such an iconic story with such timeless characters and audiences of any age will delight in this new production full of laughter, excitement and a lot of colour. I can’t wait to return to the city for a fantastic festive season this Christmas as The Tin Man, it’s going to be incredible!” 

The Vivienne added: “It is quite literally a dream come true to be asked to play the Wicked Witch of the West and to bring this amazing character to life this Christmas. The Wizard of Oz means everything to me, it’s the ultimate story of overcoming adversity. I first saw the movie aged five and I’ve probably seen it about one hundred times since. I played The Tin Man at primary school and got to skate to “Over The Rainbow: on Dancing on Ice so it’s fair to say I’ve had a life-long love affair with the story.

“Your favourite characters are all there, telling the story you know and love … but with SO much more added to this new production. Prepare to be whisked into an amazing new world of colour. Performing in Liverpool is always a complete joy, and this will actually be my first-time stepping foot on the Empire stage after years of seeing productions there, so it’s a complete honour!”

The Wizard of Oz on tour is presented Michael Harrison, Gavin Kalin Productions, David Mirvish, Crossroads Live, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Nick Thomas, Rupert Gavin and Mallory Factor, Jake Hine and Playing Field, by arrangement with the Really Useful Group Ltd.

Liverpool’s run is on sale below.

Featured In This Story

The Wizard of Oz

Performances begin: 13 December 2023