Michael Crawford to star in Wizard of Oz

Theatre veteran Michael Crawford is to reunite with Andrew Lloyd Webber 24 years after playing the original Phantom of the Opera.

Danielle Hope and Michael Crawford, stars of The Wizard of Oz
Danielle Hope and Michael Crawford, stars of The Wizard of Oz

The actor will take on the role of the Wizard in Lloyd Webber’s multi-million pound production of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium, starting 7 February 2011.

Crawford, 68, made his last appearance in the West End 7 years ago as Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White at the Palace Theatre, although had to leave the show early due to illness. He is most famous for playing Frank Spencer in BBC sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Michael told the Daily Telegraph that, “I’ve been fortunate working with Andrew before so I thought there was no harm in trying again. We’re all very excited about the show. It’s a slightly different interpretation of the story and we are sort of developing our own character of the Wizard. He’s quite a crafty character. He was played by Frank Morgan very successfully in the film so I’ve got a lot to live up to.”

The show will also star Danielle Hope, 18, who won the BBC talent show Over the Rainbow to become Dorothy in the new production. The cast will also include Over The Rainbow runner-up Sophie Evans covering the part of Dorothy on Tuesdays and when Ms Hope is on holiday.

The major musical starts rehearsals in December featuring songs from the original Harold Arlen film score plus new songs penned from a reunited Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.  Rice and Lloyd Webber are arguably the world’s most successful living composer-lyricists with shows including Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group will produce the show, with performances starting from 7 February 2011 at the London Palladium. The creative team behind the 2006 revival of The Sound of Music, including director Jeremy Sams, designer Robert Jones and choreographer Arlene Phillips, will work on the show.

The first stage version of L Frank Baum’s classic book was in 1902 starring Anna Laughlin. The 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland is the most famous version of the show, and was adapted into a stage musical in 1945 by Frank Gabrielson for the St. Louis Municipal Opera.

Book tickets to The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

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