Jason Manford & Ashley Banjo to star in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium

Initial casting for Leicester Curve’s West End transfer of The Wizard of Oz has been revealed.

Jason Manford, who is a multi-award-winning stand-up Comedian, Actor, Singer, Writer, Radio and Television Presenter, will play The Cowardly Lion.

Well known for his critically acclaimed live stand-up tours, Jason also has musical theatre credits that include Signor Pirelli in the Olivier-winning production of Sweeney Todd alongside Imelda Staunton & Michael Ball in 2012, Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ The Producers across a UK-wide tour and as Caractacus Potts in the family musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After a short run as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall, Jason also starred as Detective Frank Cioffi in the Kander & Ebb musical, Curtains.

Jason has been the regular host of the Olivier Awards for the past five years as well hosting several shows on tv from daytime quiz show Unbeatable to Sunday Night at The Palladium and The Royal Variety Performance. He can currently be seen on ITV1 every Saturday night judging on the new series of Starstruck. Later this month, he will host BBC One’s primetime show Big Night of Musicals for the second time.

Ashley Banjo is the founder, creative director and choreographer for the dance group Diversity who found fame in 2009 after winning Britain’s Got Talent. He will make his West End musical debut in The Wizard of Oz, in the role of The Tin Man.

The BAFTA award-winning group Diversity has achieved what no other dance group has, having sold well over half a million tickets across their 10 sell-out UK tours.

As well as his own tours with Diversity, on the stage, Ashley starred in the Olivier Award-winning production of Dick Whittington and went on to headline a further five productions, showcasing not only his dance but also his acting and comedic talent.

The Wizard of Oz is based on L. Frank Baum’s much-loved story, and features the iconic original score by Harold Arlen (music) and E.Y. Harburg (lyrics) from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See the Wizard.

Plus the musical has additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and the show is adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams.

Directed by Nikolai Foster (Billy Elliot The Musical, A Chorus Line) The Wizard of Oz has choreography by Shay Barclay, Set Designer is Colin Richmond, Projection Designer is Douglas O’Connell, Costume and Puppet Designer is Rachael Canning, Lighting Designer is Ben Cracknell, Sound Designer is Adam Fisher, Creative Consultant is Mark Kaufman, Musical Director and Musical Supervisor is George Dyer, Casting Director is Kay Magson CDG, Props Supervisor is Marcus Hall Props, and Wigs, Hair and Makeup Designer is Elizabeth Marini. Orchestrations are by David Cullen, and Orchestrations are adapted by George Dyer.

As previously announced, following its West End run the show will embark on an extensive UK tour.

The Wizard of Oz runs from 23 June 2023 until 3 September 2023 at the London Palladium.

Book The Wizard of Oz tickets at the London Palladium

📷 Main photo: Jason Manford & Ashley Banjo

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