London's Royal Festival Hall to Present Wizard of Oz This Summer

News   London's Royal Festival Hall to Present Wizard of Oz This Summer Jude Kelly will direct a new production of The Wizard of Oz at the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall this summer.

The production is scheduled to begin previews July 23 with an official opening July 29. The limited engagement will run through Aug. 31.

Featuring music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y Harburg, the musical is based on classic 1939 film, which itself was based on Frank Baum's fairytale book. It is presented in a version that was originally written by John Kane for the RSC, who first staged it at the Barbican Theatre for the Christmas season in 1987. Oz was so popular that it was revived the following Christmas.

In a press statement, Kelly commented, "The Wizard of Oz has left an indelible impression on over four generations. From its beginning as an American folk-fairy tale, it has grown into something that lies at the very heart of what we feel about courage and homecoming. With its stunning visual iconography, glorious music, and the unabashed vulnerability of its cast of characters – be they lions, wizards or men of tin – it fulfils the evergreen role of a true classic. I've directed The Wizard of Oz once before, and the great thing about it is that it responds equally well to the imagination of theatre making as to the wonderful technicolor of film."

Kelly previously staged The Wizard of Oz at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in 2002, when she was artistic director there. To celebrate the run of the show at the Festival Hall, there are plans to transform Southbank Centre into a 21st-century "emerald city" with the venue bathed at night in magical green lighting and a yellow brick road guiding visitors to the site.

The production will have a cast of 30, who are yet to be announced. The set and costumes will be designed by Michael Vale, associate artist at Southbank Centre. To book tickets contact the box office at 0871 663 2584 or visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

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