Gary Wilmot, legend of The London Palladium, will play the title role in The Wizard of Oz this summer.



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    Michael Harrison and the Really Useful Group are thrilled to announce that Gary Wilmot, one of the all-time legends of The London Palladium and a star of the annual Palladium Panto, will play the title role in The Wizard of Oz this summer. Gary will star as The Wizard and Professor Marvel, joining the previously announced Jason Manford (the Cowardly Lion) and Ashley Banjo (the Tin Man).

    Michael Harrison, the producer of the smash-hit Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, presents Curve’s brand-new production of one of the world’s most beloved musicals, beginning performances on Friday 23 June (Press Night: Thursday 6 July).

    Gary has starred in a string of television series making him a household name as a comic-actor and singer. He has been a subject of This is Your Life, hosted the Laurence Olivier awards and won a TMA best actor nomination in his musical theatre debut as Bill Snibson in Me And My Girl.

    His many theatre credits include The Wizard in Wicked (Apollo Theatre), Jethro in Prince of Egypt (The Dominion) and Badger in The Wind in the Willows (The London Palladium).

    Gary’s star turn in the Christmas Palladium Pantomime – which includes as Queen Nigella in Jack & The Beanstalk, Dame Gary in Pantoland at The Palladium, Mrs Crumble in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Sarah The Cook in Dick Whittington – has cemented his place as one of the legends of the iconic theatre.

    Jason Manford, who is a multi-award-winning stand-up Comedian, Actor, Singer, Writer, Radio and Television Presenter, will play The Cowardly Lion.Well known for his critically acclaimed live stand-up tours, Jason also has musical theatre credits that include Signor Pirelli in the Olivier-winning production of Sweeney Todd alongside Imelda Staunton & Michael Ball in 2012, Leo Bloomin Mel Brooks ’The Producers across a UK-wide tour and as Caractacus Potts in the family musical,Chitty Chitty BangBang. After a short run as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall, Jason also starred as Detective Frank Cioffi in the Kander & Ebb musical, Curtains. Jason has been the regular host of the Olivier Awards for the past five years as well hosting several shows on tv from daytime quiz show Unbeatable to Sunday Night at The Palladium and The Royal Variety Performance. He can currently be seen on ITV1 every Saturday night judging on the new series of Starstruck. Later this month, he will host BBC One’s primetime show Big Night of Musicals for the second time.

    Ashley Banjo is the founder, creative director and choreographer for the dance group Diversity who found fame in 2009 after winning Britain’s Got Talent. He will make his West End musical debut in The Wizard of Oz, in the role of The Tin Man. The BAFTA award winning group Diversity have achieved what no other dance group has, having sold well over half a million tickets across their 10 sell out UK tours. Diversity have numerous television performances to their name and won a BAFTA award for the Must See Moment of 2020 for their iconic performance on Britain’s Got Talent. Ashleywasrecentlyawarded an MBE in the New Years Honours 2022 for services to dance and last year Ashley and Diversity were privileged to perform for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at her Platinum Jubilee concert. As well as his own tours with Diversity, on the stage, Ashley starred in the Olivier Award winning production of Dick Whittington and went on to headline a further five productions, showcasing not only his dance but also his acting and comedic talent. Aside from his on stage achievements Ashley is well known for his television roles; he has presented, judged and produced many award-winning programmes including Britain’s Got Talent, Dancing On Ice and the Emmy and BAFTA award winning The Real Full Monty.

    Michael Harrison said: “I’m delighted today to announce that Gary Wilmot will join Jason Manford and Ashley Banjo in the thrilling new production of The Wizard of Oz. Gary has been one of the stars of The Palladium panto for the last 6 years, and audiences have loved his natural sense of comedy and mischief. I know he will bring these qualities to The Wizard, and his casting only adds to the magic in store at The London Palladium this summer.”

    Further star casting is to be announced.

    Join Dorothy and Toto on an unforgettable adventure as they are swept over the rainbow to the merry old land of Oz. 

    Featuring the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See the Wizard – with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – this spectacular production will be a magical experience for all the family.

    Directed by Nikolai Foster (Billy Elliot The MusicalA Chorus LineThe Wizard of Oz has choreography by Shay Barclay, Set Designer is Colin Richmond, Projection Designer is Douglas O’Connell, Costume and Puppet Designer is Rachael Canning, Lighting Designer is Ben Cracknell, Sound Designer is Adam Fisher, Creative Consultant is Mark Kaufman, Musical Director and Musical Supervisor is George Dyer, Casting Director is Kay Magson CDG, Props Supervisor is Marcus Hall Props and Wigs, Hair and Makeup Designer is Elizabeth Marini.

    The Wizard of Oz will also be touring the Uk from Dec 23 with the show opening at the Liverpool Empire as its Christmas show 13 Dec – 7 Jan 24


    Future tour dates and cast to be announced.

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