The TheatreguideLondon Review
The Wizard of Oz
is a show that knows its audience and gives them exactly what they
expect, no less and no more. That is its strength and that is its
once-a-year theatregoers are guaranteed to have exactly the experience
they want to have, with no surprises but with no special thrills. This
is theatrical comfort food, expertly prepared, and designed to be
This new stage version of the 1939 film, generated by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Jeremy Sams, follows its source scene for scene and almost line for line.
Lloyd Webber has reunited with Tim Rice to add five new songs to the Harold Arlen - E. Y. Harburg score but, except for a big new number for the Wicked Witch, the new material is mainly filler (though we do occasionally hear Tim Rice at his playful best, with rhymes like plans/As - Kansas and humpback whale/A - Venezuela).
design is more than a bit disappointing, with the filmed impression of
the tornado looking very much like the one they managed back in 1939
and the big scary image of the Wizard decidedly inferior to the
Danielle Hope, who won the role in a TV competition, gives the kind of
performance you might expect from a good understudy - pleasant, never
less than competent, but lacking any star quality. The audience
applauds 'Over The Rainbow', but they're applauding the song and not
her rendition, which is evidenced by the fact that none of her other
numbers get the same reaction.
saunters easily through the twinned roles of Professor Marvel and the
Wizard, barely raising a sweat or offering much that anyone else
couldn't bring to the role; you might not even notice that it's also
him as the Oz doorman and tour guide.
theatrical excitement there is is generated by Hannah Waddingham as the
Wicked Witch of the West, having fun with the panto-villain snarling
and blasting her way through the one good new song, a very Broadway-ish
'Red Shoes Blues'.
also score pleasantly in their various ways, Paul Keating's
loose-limbed Scarecrow, Edward Baker-Duly's suave (oily, perhaps?) Tin
Man, and David Ganly's joke-cracking ('I'm proud to be a Friend of
(As that last gag
suggests, there are occasional moments when the revised script by Lloyd
Webber and Sams tries to have it both ways, archly and ironically
distancing themselves from the material while also playing it straight.
Those jokes - Glinda and the Tin Man have some as well - almost always
fall flat, perhaps because the audience isn't on the same ironic
If you know someone
who is not a theatregoer and is a bit afraid of trying something new,
or if you have to find something for kids who have already seen The
Lion King, this is the perfect show for them.
If you want more, if you want something that has been adapted to the stage in inventive ways or something that has a life of its own that isn't just borrowed from its source, you will have to look elsewhere.
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Review - The Wizard of Oz - Palladium 2011