Russell Grant takes over from Michael Crawford as Wizard of Oz
The news comes shortly after Whatsonstage.com reported that Over the Rainbow runner-up Sophie Evans will take over full time from the reality casting competition's winner Danielle Hope from 7 February 2012. Evans has been covering Hope's holidays and Tuesday evening performances since the show opened on 1 March (previews from 7 February 2011).
Starting his career as an actor, Russell Grant came to prominence as a TV astrologer in the 1980's and '90's. He recently competed in the ninth series of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, surviving until the show's eight with dance partner Flavia Cacace.
Grant, who joins the show on 14 February 2012, will appear alongside Edward Baker-Duly as Tin Man, Martin Callaghan as Lion, Paul Keating as Scarecrow, Emily Tierney as Glinda and Marianne Benedict as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The Wizard of Oz is currently nominated in four categories at this year's Whatsonstage.com Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Best Set Designer. Hannah Waddingham, who originated the role of the Wicked Witch of the West at the Palladium is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical whilst Danielle Hope is nominated in the London Newcomer of the Year category.
Danielle Hope is currently starring as Dorothy alongside Michael Crawford as the Wizard. Crawford will also play his final performance on 5 February with rumours recent Strictly Come Dancing contestant Russell Grant as a possible replacement.