There’s no place like Curve this Christmas as the theatre’s festive musical, The Wizard of Oz, is now open!
The musical is based on the 1939 filmed of the same name, which is, itself, based on L Frank Baum’s children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, Baum’s lesser-known The Life and Times of Santa Claus has also been made into a musical, Claus, which is about to have its world premiere at The Lowry.
There have been plenty of stage adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Wizard of Oz, but this is, by far, the most notable – unsurprising, given the fact it features (new) music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice. Whilst the musical uses the iconic songs from the film, the pair wrote a bunch of new songs for the stage adaptation.
The Wizard of Oz had its World Premiere at the London Palladium in 2011. It transferred to Toronto, Canada the following year, before touring the US the year after that. In 2017, it toured Australia. Now, at last, the musical is having its UK Regional Premiere – before transferring to the London Palladium next year, where it all began.
The new Curve production is led by rising star Georgina Onuorah, who received recognition for starring in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most recent musical, the controversial Cinderella, where she was the alternate for Cinderella (usually played by Carrie Hope Fletcher).
Onuorah is the latest Black actress to be cast in a lead role since Black Lives Matter forced theatre to have a racial reckoning. How incredible it is to see a Black actress play the iconic role of Dorothy Gale!
Stage, screen, and YouTube sensation Christina Bianco, one of the world’s leading impressionists, is playing Glinda the Good Witch. I caught her in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice earlier this year – a play with music about an amateur impressionist.
The Wicked Witch of the West, meanwhile, is played by Charlotte Jaconelli (Britain’s Got Talent series 6 runner-up, as part of Jonathan & Charlotte). Leicestershire’s own Jonny Fines is playing Scarecrow. He previously starred in the original casts of My Beautiful Laundrette and An Officer and a Gentleman, both of which were “Made at Curve”.
Giovanni Spanó, who came ninth on the 15th series of The X Factor, is playing Lion. Before The X Factor, he starred in the original cast of Bat Out of Hell, which had its World Premiere in Manchester, before transferring to the West End. A few years back, he starred in Rip It Up The 70s, which I caught in Manchester. Most recently, he starred alongside Onuorah in the original cast of Cinderella.
Tim Man is played by Paul French, who starred in Curve’s revival of Grease, which recently played at the Dominion Theatre in the West End. Ben Thompson is taking on the role of Dorothy’s canine companion, Toto, brought to life onstage using puppetry. Earlier this year, Thompson starred in the World Premiere of 101 Dalmatians at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which I gave a positive review.
The Wizard (and Professor Marvel) is played by Leicester’s own Mark Peachey, who first made his Curve debut in the theatre’s community production of Richard III and recently appeared in Dear Evan Hansen in the West End. The main cast is rounded off with Jacqui Dubois (who was part of the original cast of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, UK tour) as Aunt Em and Georggrey Aymer (who was last seen on Curve’s stage in the Made at Curve production of The Color Purple) as Uncle Henry.
The Made at Curve revival of The Wizard of Oz is directed by Curve’s Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster, whose recent productions have included the acclaimed Billy Elliot the Musical, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, A Chorus Line, and the aforementioned Grease.
So, click your heels together three times and say, “There’s no place like Curve”. Join Dorothy and Toto as they are swept up from sepia-soaked Kansas and transported over the rainbow to the technicolour wonderland of Oz. On her adventure down the Yellow Brick Road Dorothy meets new friends Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion, who help her on her way, but the villainous and frightfully glamourous Wicked Witch has other plans for Dorothy, and in Oz, nothing is quite as it seems.
Through the deep Dark Forest to the bright neon lights of Emerald City, Dorothy and her friends search for the powerful and mysterious Wizard of Oz, the only person who can grant their hearts desires, and maybe even a way home. But when you’re having such fun, do you really wanna go home?