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The Wizard of Oz Musical Review

The West End musical The Wizard of Oz at The London Palladium is inspired by the 1939 film of the same name, directed by Victor Fleming. The new limited season of The Wizard of Oz is also based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2011 musical.

The show follows the story of Dorothy Gale, played by Georgina Onuorah, a young girl who dreams of what lies over the rainbow. After a tornado hit her hometown of Kansas, she is carried away to Munchkinland – beyond the rainbow. The Munchkins see Dorothy as a heroine as her landing results in the death of the Wicked Witch of the East, their former boss. Dorothy then wishes to return to Kansas and must seek help from the great Wizard of Oz, on her journey along the Yellow Brick Road she persuades three friends (a Brainless Scarecrow, a Heartless Tin man, and a Cowardly Lion) to join her on the trip to the Emerald City. On route they must overcome a vengeful Wicked Witch of the West who tries to stop them reaching the Wizard.

As the protagonist, Onuorah had a good show at Dorothy, specifically with her vocals during Over The Rainbow though unfortunately she was casted much older than the characters age – much like the rest of the characters. Louis Gaunt was an impressive Scarecrow bringing the boneless movements to life, along with the brainless dialogue which received laughs from the audience. Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashley Banjo played the Tin Man in his West End debut, the character allowed him to show off a little of his dancing skills particularly when loosening the rusted tin. Finally Jason Manford played the Cowardly Lion, though his performance had no standouts. Gaunt, Banjo and Manford also doubled as workers on Dorothy’s hometown farm in opening and ending scenes, portraying how the story is her dream and she was surrounded by familiar faces throughout. Toto, Dorothy’s dog, was portrayed in a unique way with Ben Thompson hand puppetting on stage, at first I wasn’t a fan and found the concept weird but I’m not sure how else they could have done it – without a real dog of course!

Music by Harold Arlen along with Lloyd Webber made the show have nostalgic value containing classics such as Over the Rainbow, Yellow Brick Road, and Off To See The Wizard alongside some newly introduced songs.

The ensemble was in most scenes providing high energy to the show, with an impressive amount of costume changes. As well as providing entertainment they were also an important part of the moving sets particularly in the Yellow Brick Road, complimented by the visuals on screens. Large screens were the main source of set change giving a cheaply produced feel, it often lost its fairytale look and instead felt much more like an arcade game. The visuals and lighting were also sometimes very intense with a lot going on and hurt my eyes, people around me shared the same view.

The show was wholesome and I did have a sense of nostalgia having grown up watching the film, but I left the theatre disappointed with the main reason being because of the unnecessary futuristic elements added by director Nikolai Foster and ruining an already perfect story. Motorbikes being used as broomsticks by the good witch Glinda and winged monkey’s that didn’t fly just didn’t suit the story in any way and I believe it could be portrayed much better with more effort. I therefore would give the show 3 stars with the cast and songs making up for the poor production.

Access at The London Palladium

The theatre is located a two minute walk from Oxford Circus underground station, but due to this being inaccessible we had to go to Bond Street which was a ten minute walk away. There is a designated entrance for wheelchair users, unfortunately the shop was up some stairs but there was a list of merchandise for me to chose from and my mum went to purchase them for me.

Our seats were in row S of the stalls accessed via a lift, there was also a bar before entering the auditorium, the walk down to the seat was on a hill so I had to be weary not to lose control of my chair. Unfortunately from my seat I couldn’t see the left side of stage, the top of the stage and when the Wicked Witch Of East was in audience on the upper level, so you do miss bits sitting at the back of the stalls.


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