Russell made his name as Britain’s best-loved astrologer and is now adored by the nation after starring in the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Having captured the public’s heart on the BBC hit Saturday night show, Russell will be working with Arlene Phillips, the show’s choreographer, to bring the new dance moves he’s learned to the stage of the London Palladium!
Russell will star alongside Sophie Evans, runner up in BBC’s ‘Over the Rainbow’, who despite just missing out on the top spot, charmed the millions who tuned in to watch her, ensuring they would never forget the red-headed girl from Wales.
Russell began his career as an actor, before gaining national recognition as Britain’s favourite TV astrologer, regularly appearing on UK television throughout the 1980's and 90’s. But it was as dance partner to Flavia Cacace in last year’s BBC smash hit dance show Strictly Come Dancing that catapulted him back to national fame.
Russell said of his new role: “I am thrilled to be back where I’m at my happiest - in showbiz! I want to thank the great British public for their kindness in supporting me in Strictly: without them, I wouldn’t be back in the West End again”.
In addition to the eponymous role, Russell will also play the character of Professor Marvel, for whom a new song has been specially written, The Wonders of the World. This is one of several brand new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Alongside Russell and Sophie are Edward Baker-Duly (Tin Man), Martin Callaghan (Lion), Paul Keating (Scarecrow), Emily Tierny (Glinda) and Marianne Benedict (The Wicked Witch of the West).
The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum is directed by Jeremy Sams, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, with additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, set and costumes designs by Robert Jones, and produced by Bill Kenwright and the Really Useful Group.
Book Wizard of Oz tickets online now.