In a press statement, Lloyd Webber commented, "We will be going a lot further than simply presenting the movie on stage. We have re-visited the original novel and re-conceived our Oz as a piece of new musical theatre using the wonderful Arlen/Harburg songs and adding a few new ones where there are gaps. I am really looking forward to bringing The Wizard of Oz to life on stage. I am delighted that Michael Crawford, a legend of musical theatre, will take on the role of the Wizard and can't wait to work with him once more."
Crawford added, "I didn’t hesitate at all when Andrew asked me to take on the role of the Wizard. Working with him and Tim on a brand new production of this timeless classic is so thrilling and I am already looking forward to starting rehearsals later in the year."
Crawford, of course, originated another title role for Lloyd Webber when he starred in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End in 1986, and subsequently reprised the role on Broadway in 1988, where he took the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He was last seen on a West End stage when he played the role of Count Fosco in the original London production of Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White at the Palace Theatre in 2004. Crawford has previously appeared at the London Palladium in the title role of the West End transfer of Barnum in 1981. On Broadway, he has also appeared in the short-lived Dance of the Vampires in 2002.
In the Telegraph, Crawford is also quoted saying, "It's a slightly different interpretation of the story and we are sort of developing our own character of the Wizard. He's quite a craft character. He was played by Frank Morgan very successfully in the film so I've got a lot to live up to. I start rehearsals in December when I'll find out what I look like with the make-up and the costumes. It's not like a film, where you've got time to change, so you've got to use a little more imagination so that characters can evolve from one to another very quickly and so deceive the audience."
Crawford joins Danielle Hope, who will play Dorothy after winning the BBC reality TV series "Over the Rainbow" by public vote. Further casting is still to be announced. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 412 2957, or visit www.wizardofozthemusical.co.uk.