Former astrologer and Strictly Come Dancing star Russell Grant will samba his way down the yellow brick road when he replaces Michael Crawford in The Wizard Of Oz from 14 February.
Grant, who began his career as an actor before making his name as the king of horoscopes, was thrust back into the limelight when he partnered Flavia Cacace on the BBC’s prime time dance show, winning the hearts of the British public with his enthusiastic routines.
“I am thrilled to be back where I’m at my happiest – in showbiz!” the light-footed leading man commented. “I want to thank the great British public for their kindness in supporting me in Strictly: without them, I wouldn’t be back in the West End again.”
Also leaving Oz for the real world in February is the show’s Dorothy, Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope. She will be replaced by runner-up in the BBC talent show and current alternate Dorothy Sophie Evans.
Grant, who will play both the Wizard and Professor Marvel for a limited 12-week run, joins a cast that also includes Edward Baker-Duly, Martin Callaghan, Paul Keating, Emily Tierney and Marianne Benedict.
The famous show tells the story of a young farm girl who is swept up in a tornado, and finds herself in a magical world. Her only means of escape is to seek the help of the wonderful Wizard of Oz, but that is easier said than done when you are being stalked by an evil, green-skinned witch.
This new production of The Wizard Of Oz opened at the London Palladium in March 2011 and features the much-loved musical score along with new tracks written specially by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.