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Michael Crawford is West End Wizard

First Published 24 September 2010, Last Updated 24 September 2010

The original Phantom Of The Opera, Michael Crawford, is to be the new Wizard Of Oz as he once again teams up with Andrew Lloyd Webber for his new production at the London Palladium next year.

Crawford was last seen on stage in the West End in another Lloyd Webber musical, The Woman In White, in which he played Count Fosco at the Palace theatre in 2004.

A two-times Laurence Olivier Award-winner, Crawford’s London stage career began in 1962 when he made his West End debut in Come Blow Your Horn. Several productions followed but it wasn’t until 1981 that Crawford hit the theatrical big time in the musical Barnum, for which he won his first Laurence Olivier Award. His second followed five years later when he originated the role of the Phantom at Her Majesty’s theatre opposite Sarah Brightman. However, Crawford is also well know for an entirely different kind of role, that of bumbling Frank Spencer in the hugely popular 1970s sitcom Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Commenting on his new role, Crawford said, “I didn’t hesitate at all when Andrew asked me to take on the role of the Wizard. Working with him and Tim on a brand new production of this timeless classic is so thrilling and I am already looking forward to starting rehearsals later in the year.”

In joining The Wizard Of Oz, which begins performances at the London Palladium on 7 February, Crawford will star alongside Danielle Hope who won the role of Dorothy in the BBC series Over The Rainbow.

Based on the novel by L Frank Baum, The Wizard Of Oz tells the story of young Dorothy’s adventures in Oz. Desperate to get home, she travels to the Emerald City, with three friends she meets along the way, to put her request to the Wizard. But their journey is hampered by the Wicked Witch Of The West.

Lloyd Webber’s new production will use the score from the famous 1939 film, including the songs Over The Rainbow and Follow The Yellow Brick Road, as well as new songs written by Lloyd Webber with his long-term writing partner Tim Rice. It is the first time the pair have worked together on a new show in over 30 years.

The Wizard Of Oz opens to the press on 1 March and is currently booking to 17 September 2011.

CB

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