Dorothy and Toto with her friends the Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man and The Scarecrow. Pictures: Marc Brenner

The Wizard of Oz

Birmingham Hippodrome


It was with great excitement we followed the yellow brick road, well the A38, to Birmingham’s Hippodrome, to watch The Wizard of Oz.

The production, with additional music and lyrics from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, also boasted additional star power in the form of Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood as the Wicked Witch of the West and JLS’s Aston Merrygold as the Tin Man.

Both acquitted themselves with aplomb. Craig hammed it up as the quintessential villain (even eliciting some enthusiastic boos from the audience and a raucous cheer upon the much-anticipated melting). As well as a glint in the eye and good dose of in-jokes, he also showcased a cracking singing voice.

Aston brought a bruiser vibe to the tin man – his robotic dance when getting oiled a particular highlight. Beyond that his acting skills were surprisingly good and his singing was as good as you remembered it from his JLS heyday.

The rest of the cast was a case of more of the same with some really lovely performances. Aviva Tulley was a super Dorothy, with vocals to die for and the right mix of feistiness and fragility. Accompanying her, as faithful companion Toto was Abigail Matthews – who managed to get bucketloads of companionship, humour and pathos out of Dorothy’s four-legged puppet friend.


Aston Merrygold as The Tin Man and Abigail Matthews as Toto

Benjamin Yates made for a fantastic scarecrow, bringing grade A comic timing and camaraderie whilst Nic Greenshields was a truly brilliant Cowardly Lion – in his nostalgic turn which was the only real homage to the original character, he played it so perfectly that I couldn’t stop smiling whenever he was in action.   

Beyond that Emily Bull was a nurturing Glinda/Aunt Em, Allan Stewart had a lovely way about him as Professor Marvel/The Wizard and David Burrows completed the main cast as a strong Uncle Henry.

The ensemble worked really hard to transport the audience to the different parts of Oz, which was no mean feat given the scale of the original.

If I have one quibble with the production, it would be that I wasn’t a massive fan of the scenery featuring so much digital projection.

I can absolutely see why it is employed as we rattle through their journey, chewing through various scenery changes but, for me, it takes away some of the magic of set design and can be a distraction from what’s happening on stage. At times it was like I was in a posh version of Catchphrase or Knightmare. The mere fact those are my cultural touchpoints possibly highlights that this is a generational issue but I definitely found it affected how much I connected with the show.      

Overall though, it’s a really good show and definitely worth catching if you get the chance on the run which lasts until Sunday 16th.

Tickets start from £30 (with concessions available and a limited availability family offer whereby one child is half price for every full paying adult). With some performances sold out whilst others have limited availability, it would be wise to book as soon as you can if you’re planning to go.

There are a range of accessible performances, with Captioned on Thu 13 Jun at  7.30pm, Audio Described on Sat 15 Jun at 2.30pm and Touch Tour also on Sat 15 Jun at 12:30pm.

You can buy your tickets HERE. (alas clicking your heels three times won’t take you to the homepage).

Theo Clarke


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