Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Critics go off to see the wizard

Edward Baker-Duly, David Ganly, Paul Keating and Danielle Hope star in the Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium

Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest stage spectacular The Wizard of Oz has met with broadly positive reviews from theatre critics.

The show, which features Danielle Hope in the role of Dorothy following a TV talent search, was unveiled to the media and a star-studded audience at the London Palladium on Tuesday night.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts said the Manchester teenager was "more than efficient" in the lead role, praising her for her "clear, strong voice and a broad-shouldered confidence".

He also described West Highland terrier Toto, played by a rotating cast of four dogs, as the show's real star.

But he said West End veteran Michael Crawford, who plays the wizard, was "as under-used as the average Soda Stream", and compared the production's "dramatic buzz" to that of a pantomime.

The Guardian's Michael Billington gave the show three out of a possible five stars. He paid tribute to the "sumptuous visuals", courtesy of set and costume designer Robert Jones, and described the additions to the original film's score as "perfectly acceptable".

But he added: "The paradox of the evening is that it suffers the same dilemma as the Tin Man: it might have been so much more if it only had a heart."

Charles Spencer, for the Daily Telegraph, also awarded the production three out of five stars, labelling it a "soullessly efficient" production rather than an "inspired re-invention" of the much-loved 1939 movie.

Stars including Sir Michael Caine, Barbara Windsor and Rowan Atkinson were among the guests who stepped out for the launch of the production last night. They were joined by several of the runners-up of the television talent show and Lloyd Webber himself, who looked like the Wizard of Oz in his green velvet jacket.

Although the new version includes the well-loved songs of the film musical, composer Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice have created several new numbers. The production also marks the first major collaboration between the hit-making duo for more than 30 years.

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