The Royal Festival Hall has announced a principal cast for The Wizard Of Oz which is packed with musical experience. Adam Cooper, Gary Wilmot, Roy Hudd, Julie Legrand, Hilton McRae and Siân Brooke star.
The new production, directed by the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre Jude Kelly, runs from 23 July to 31 August (press night 29 July).
Cooper swaps the swashbuckling of Zorro, in which he recently toured, for the axe-wielding of the Tin Man. The actor/choreographer, who has also starred in Guys And Dolls and Singin’ In The Rain, rose to fame as a dancer, creating the role of the Swan in Matthew Bourne’s all-male Swan Lake.
Wilmot, one of Britain’s favourite musical performers, will be feeling feline when he plays the Cowardly Lion. His previous London credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Me And My Girl, HMS Pinafore and the world premiere of Copacabana.
The trio of enchanted adventurers is completed by Hilton McRae who plays the brainless scarecrow. McRae has previously appeared in musicals Caroline Or Change, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables and Miss Saigon.
The final companion on the journey to the Emerald City, Kansas girl Dorothy, is played by Brooke. This role is very different to her last London outing, which came in Pinter’s The Birthday Party at the Lyric Hammersmith. The RADA graduate has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court.
Legrand is the actress with the aim of stopping the friends’ journey, as she plays the Wicked Witch of the West, one of the scariest cinematic baddies of all time. Like Brooke she has appeared on numerous occasions with the RSC, and also at the National Theatre. Her last London run came in the successful production of Fiddler On The Roof.
Comedian Hudd is probably best known for his long-running topical comedy radio show The News Huddlines. He won a Laurence Olivier Award for his self-penned musical Underneath The Arches and has also starred in shows including Oliver!, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hudd will play the wonderful wizard.
The Wizard Of Oz is one of the most popular musical films of all time and marked Judy Garland’s emergence as a superstar. The stage production, based on the movie, features famous songs including Somewhere Over The Rainbow, We’re Off To See The Wizard and Follow The Yellow Brick Road. The Southbank Centre’s production features a 20-strong band and a cast of around 50.