At work usually on a Thursday or Friday afternoon, one of the team has a quick visit to the local sweet shop, to give us a sugar rush and treat. This show was the theatrical version of a sweet shop visit to me. So many reviews that I’ve read seem to have missed the point about this show. My criteria for going and now reviewing the show is totally different to how I’d review a straight play for example. I’ve not been to see a big scale “commercial” musical since Betty Blues Eyes , and so I was in need of my theatrical “sugar rush”.
So was this a Vimto Bon Bon of a show (yummy and great) or more of a Parma Violet (yuck!) ?
Michael Crawford is the title character, and I was genuinely excited about seeing him live for the first time. he also has other roles in the show. His (new) song as Professor Marvel, is a charming number and he delivers it with the right touch of humour and sentiment. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s also written the song “Bring me the Broomstick” for the Wizard, which gives the chance for Michael Crawford to fill the Palladium with his strikingly powerful voice and was a great close to the first Act. When he’s not singing, his acting is witty and just right for this role. Corny to say, but he really is a “Wizard if ever there woz”!
I’d voted for Danielle Hope in Over the Rainbow and was watching with anticipation to see how she had settled into the role now that she’s been doing it for four months. She certainly was the right choice for Dorothy, she has a stunning voice and exhibits a great warmth from the stage. Her interaction with the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man is perfect. Most of her scenes involve her being with Toto and she handled him brilliantly (yes the dog steals many scenes and possibly the show!).
Hannah Waddingham is excruciatingly evil as the Wicked Witch of the West, suitable boos from the audience were signs of this. She has a good number (again another new addition) “Red Shoe Blues” which was excellent.
Emily Tierney is a magical Glinda, her entrance in Act one is breathtaking and she has probably one of the most amazing dresses in any musical I’ve seen.
Edward Baker-Duly, David Ganly and Paul Keating as the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow have great fun with these roles and play perfectly to the audience. Paul Keating does some demanding physical theatre with his Scarecrow, Edward Baker-Duly does a great tap routine and David Ganly has some of the best laughs of the show, and he knows how to deliver his lines to get the best reactions. (I loved his, “I’m a Lion in Winter” and “I’m proud to be a friend of Dorothy” lines).
The new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, certainly contain their hallmarks but I thought they fitted in well. I especially liked the final song of “Already Home”, which is beautiful.
I was disappointed by the choreography which can at best be described as “functional”, the (admittedly few) large cast numbers certainly did not give me a wow factor from the choreography which to me is necessary part of musicals like this.
The sets are amazing and the new double revolve at the Palladium is a serious piece of kit that is fully realised to its potential in this production and I’m sure will become a key reason producers choose this venue for future productions. The twister scene has been well documented as to how effective it is, and Jon Driscoll is certainly the Wizard of projection in the world of theatre, I loved his work in Love Never Dies, and he excels again here.
So this was a perfect “sugar rush” of musical theatre. It’s a superb production, everything is slick and perhaps a bit saccharine, but that’s kind of the point of these types of musical surely? An extremely enjoyable piece of entertainment.
For tickets go to : http://www.cheaptheatretickets.com/london/london-palladium