We round up the reviews for the return of the musical to the West End.
WhatsOnStage: **** “With its revisionist take Wicked defying gravity and still pulling in audiences after many years just over Green Park, it looks like audiences will be flocking to Oz in droves this summer.”
The Guardian: *** “Previously seen at Leicester’s Curve, the show is full of imagination and skewed realities but throws too much at us and it feels like we are not so much inside Dorothy’s dream but an arcade game or hallucinatory quiz show. When it quietens, the performances shine. And when the screen projects the big empty skies and tarmac of a road movie, the story takes life.”
Time Out: *** “The standout performances here are the most vocally accomplished. As Dorothy, Georgina Onuorah delivers a subtle, rich ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow,’ its wistful tone a welcome contrast with the score’s bombastic newer songs. And Christina Bianco is an enchanting good fairy Glinda, whizzing about on a Barbie-pink Vespa and bringing spine-tingling operatic flourishes to her role.”
The Stage: ** “Confused revival of Nikolai Foster’s Curve production, starring Georgina Onuorah, Jason Manford and Ashley Banjo, lacks magic but is saved by star performances.”
Evening Standard: *** “None of it makes sense. But that was never the strong suit of Baum’s book, or the film, which are both basic and striking enough to allow for endless interpretation. And in this time of stupid culture wars it’s good to see a ruthlessly commercial adaption of the story which is also inclusive. And which, so close to Pride, acknowledges what Dorothy’s rainbow came to mean to a whole host of her friends.”
Theatre Weekly: “The Wizard of Oz, running over the summer, could be seen as being aimed at kids, but there’s plenty to enjoy for the adults too. This fresh take on a classic remains faithful to the story we all know and love but gives it so much more. Like the characters, Fosters production is smart, brave and full of heart, it’s pure joyous escapism, and for a musical like this, there really is no place like the London Palladium.”
The Telegraph: *** “The sets are bling, but this production at the London Palladium suffers by comparison with both the film and the stage spin-off Wicked.”
Musical Theatre Review: *** “Ultimately, though created at the Leicester Curve by director Nikolai Foster, this somewhat claustrophobic production presents exactly what the London Palladium does best: showcasing stars of both name and nature, elaborately outlandish costuming, extravagant ensemble dance numbers and the creation of a jubilant, pantomime-style atmosphere.”
All That Dazzles: **** “Taking on such a classic story like The Wizard Of Oz will always leave you open to comparison, which perhaps isn’t necessarily fair. Nonetheless, this production of the musical takes a classic story and does something new with it. Technically impressive with some amazing design elements and a truly wonderful cast, there is much to love about this production. While it can feel discernibly panto-esque at times, there really isn’t anything wrong with that. Playing up the camp to create a feel-good show that is fun for all the family, it went to prove there really is no place like theatre.”
The Upcoming: *** “While some may question the necessity of yet another staging of The Wizard of Oz, the enduring popularity of this production speaks volumes about the timeless appeal of the story and its ability to charm audiences across generations. It pays homage to the traditions of the original show while attempting to introduce fresh elements, even though they are not always successfully sustained. For those seeking a nostalgic and heartwarming experience, this rendition serves as a delightful reminder of the 1939 film that introduced us to the magical land of Oz, capturing what we have grown to know and love.”
Lost in Theatreland: *** “Clearly, a ton of creatives, effort, and money have been poured into this show, but unfortunately the production falls flat. Had more effort been put into developing and coordinating the story, instead of splurging on things like costumes (which, to be fair, are magnificently designed by Rachael Canning) and poor designs, maybe it would be a more well-rounded show. Nonetheless, you can’t deny the moving score, the beloved characters, or the campness of The Wizard of Oz.“
West End Best Friend: **** “Georgina Onuorah as Dorothy is a touch of class as far as casting goes. The perfect hero to this oft told tale. Her experience pours through in her performance and we can safely say, as the person who carries the weight of the show on her shoulders, those red shoes do not buckle once! Her rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ is just gorgeous.”
London Theatre.co.uk: *** “Louis Gaunt is an adorable scatty Scarecrow who stumbles and falls into the splits. Ashley Banjo, best known as the leader of Britain’s Got Talent-winning troupe Diversity, uses his street dance skills (fantastic waves and isolations) to convey the Tin Man’s rusted, robotic limbs, while Jason Manford brings impeccable comic timing and a New York drawl to his boxer-styled Lion with a blonde perm.”
The Wizard of Oz continues to play at the London Palladium until the 3rd September. To book tickets click here.