Gary Wilmot will star in the title role of the new production of The Wizard of Oz—the musical based on the L. Frank Baum story as immortalized in the 1939 MGM film featuring music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg—that will play a limited season at the London Palladium beginning June 23. Opening night is July 6.
Directed by Nikolai Foster, the production will feature the film score—including "Over the Rainbow," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," and "We're Off to See the Wizard"—with additional songs penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Wilmot's many theatre credits include The Wizard in Wicked, Jethro in Prince of Egypt, and Badger in The Wind in the Willows. He has also provided star turns in the Christmas Palladium Pantomime: Queen Nigella in Jack & The Beanstalk, Dame Gary in Pantoland at The Palladium, Mrs. Crumble in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, and Sarah The Cook in Dick Whittington.
Wilmot, who will play both the Wizard and Professor Marvel, joins the previously announced Ashley Banjo—creative director and choreographer for the dance group Diversity who found fame in 2009 after winning Britain’s Got Talent—in his West End musical debut as The Tin Man, and actor-writer-comic Jason Manford (Sweeney Todd, The Producers), who will play The Cowardly Lion. Additional casting will be announced.
Lloyd Webber's stage production of The Wizard of Oz previously played the Palladium in 2011 with a cast that included Danielle Hope as Dorothy and Michael Crawford as The Wizard.
The summer staging will also have choreography by Shay Barclay, set design by Colin Richmond, projection design by Douglas O’Connell, costume and puppet design by Rachael Canning, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Adam Fisher, creative consulting by Mark Kaufman, musical direction and supervision by George Dyer, casting by Kay Magson, props supervision by Marcus Hall Props, and wigs, hair, and makeup design by Elizabeth Marini.
Michael Harrison (newly partnered with Lloyd Webber), Gavin Kalin with David Mirvish, Crossroads Live, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Rupert Gavin and Mallory Factor, by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Limited, present the Curve production of The Wizard of Oz.
Following the Palladium engagement, the production will tour the U.K.