Night after night The Wizard of Oz plays to packed audiences who are eager to see L. Frank Baum’s tale brought to life on stage. The popular success of the show so far can be seen on the bright faces of people filing out from the London Palladium after a performance, but just what do the critics say of it? When The Wizard of Oz opened in March 2011 it was met with great reviews, praising Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new take on the classic musical with his extra-added songs, as well as the similarity that it keeps to the 1939 movie version which we all know and love and associate with the story. Read below to discover what just exactly what theatre bloggers thought to Lloyd Webber’s Revival:
“Toto proved to be a big hit and was greeted with a chorus of ‘ahh’s’ each time he appeared on stage. There was even an unexpected moment at the end, where Toto joined in to ‘sing’ with Dorothy, much to the amusement and delight of the audience…In this new production, Andrew Lloyd Webber has taken the opportunity to compose six new pieces of additional music: “Nobody Understands Me”, “The Twister”, “Bring Me the Broomstick”, “Red Shoes Blues”, “The Rescue” and “Farewell to Oz”. This has really transformed the show into something rather good and opened it up to an older audience.” – MUSICALSCORE read more
“Director Jeremy Sams has assembled a cast who (for the most part) have created characters which are quite distinct from traditional interpretations…Sams and designer Richard Jones have created a visual masterpiece that makes the most of modern stage technology and the Palladium’s revolve. Every penny they spent is there for all to see. Seriously, this is a very, very good-looking show. Like the film, as the story moves from Kansas to Oz, the washed-out sepia tones are transformed into an intense technicolour explosion with pieces of set rising and falling and appearing from nowhere thanks to the hydraulic, tilted revolve. When the Wicked Witch’s spindly, Gothic castle grows from the centre of the stage, it’s simply jaw-dropping.” THE-VOID.CO.UK read more
“Edward Baker-Duly, David Ganly and Paul Keating as the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow have great fun with these roles and play perfectly to the audience. Paul Keating does some demanding physical theatre with his Scarecrow, Edward Baker-Duly does a great tap routine and David Ganly has some of the best laughs of the show, and he knows how to deliver his lines to get the best reactions… [The Wizard of Oz] was a perfect “sugar rush” of musical theatre. It’s a superb production, everything is slick and perhaps a bit saccharine, but that’s kind of the point of these types of musical surely? An extremely enjoyable piece of entertainment.” THEATRE THOUGHTS BLOG read more.
“It was CAPSLOCK BRILLIANT. The sets, special effects, music and so on were all incredible. I was a bit disappointed not to see Sophie Evans as Dorothy, but the understudy was fine. The Cowardly Lion was as camp as anything, the Scarecrow and Tin Man were equally good. Toto was exceptionally well-trained. Glinda had the Best Dress Ever. The wicked witch was suitably wicked.
And then there was RUSSELL. Who stole every scene. He danced, he sang, his accent was all over the place but his joie de vivre was undeniable.” ROS CLARKE read more
What do you get when you cross a yellow brick road, a talking lion and a couple of well dressed witches with a winning reality TV contestant? No, the answer is not Elton John’s attic; it is of course Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of the classic musical The Wizard of Oz. The musical is currently playing at the historic London Palladium after opening to a generally positive reception in March 2011.
Despite having his name above the title, Lloyd Webber’s additions to the show, which include a scene setting Prologue, a song for the Wicked Witch of the West and a dull eleven o’clock number, add nothing to the show and feel significantly underwritten. Having reunited with lyricist Tim Rice (Joseph…Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar) to bring the 1939 film of the same name to the stage, Lloyd Webber seems blinded by his own arrogance and rather than allowing the show to dazzle in its own way, suppresses it into a pedestrian musical theatre form of which the film continues to resist. We are left with then a repetitive and unoriginal look at L Frank Baum’s Wonderful World of Oz, with a saccharine sweetness that is almost forced down the audience’s throat like a table spoon full of sugar hiding a bitter medicine. Arlene Phillip’s choreography is uninspired and is not given time to flourish, patronising a hugely talented ensemble who feel underused and at times actively bored onstage. The principal characters do what they can to bring their two-dimensional characters to life, but are so rigidly forced into a conventional musical theatre form that they seem like mere caricatures.
All eyes are firmly focused on Danielle Hope, who won the role of Dorothy thanks to the BBC 1 Reality TV show ‘Over the Rainbow’. As ‘the people’s Dorothy’ Hope delivers but never sparkles – her climax arriving too early in the show to build any relevant emotion. She plods along the yellow brick road meeting her band of friends with little care in the world, fighting to keep control of the Toto the dog who gets the best reception of the night.
The biggest disappointment of the evening comes from veteran performer Michael Crawford who character changes between the Wizard, Professor Marvel and an Ozian Guard. He is set up for failure, having to deliver what could be one of Lloyd Webber’s worst ever songs, ‘The Wonders of the World’ which outstays its welcome a verse, chorus and bridge too long. The scenic design goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Robert Jones creates a beautiful Kansas landscape, complete with effective tornado before placing the rest of the show in what seems to be the Blue Peter set circa 1982. His costumes however add dimension to the characters, bringing Glinda the Good Witch to life.
The only saving grace of the evening comes from Hannah Waddingham as the Wicked Witch of the West; a role which patronises this Sondheim regular, dangling her high above the auditorium on a broomstick. Unlike her previous performance of the Witch in the Regent’s Park production of Into the Woods this character is as deep as a puddle and as complex as a crossword in the Daily Mail. The same can be said of the show as a whole. Does it have heart? Yes. Brains? Very few. Courage? Not enough. Sadly, the production leaves you thinking ‘there is no place like home…’
Add Your Review!
Have you seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium? Did it leave you wishing you could join Dorothy in Oz or did it just make you want to click your heels and go straight home? Add your reviews and opinions about the show in the comments box below!