Jason Manford and Ashley Banjo to star in The Wizard of Oz

Posted on 23 February 2023

Comedy legend Jason Manford and dance pioneer Ashley Banjo are going somewhere over the rainbow and landing at the London Palladium this summer, in the highly anticipated production of The Wizard of Oz. Follow the performers along the yellow brick road as they take on the roles of The Cowardly Lion (Manford) and The Tin Man (Banjo), these familiar faces of British entertainment are sure to help in bringing the iconic story of Dorothy and her ruby red slippers to life! Book your tickets for The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium today, there truly is no place like home!

About Jason Manford and Ashley Banjo 

Ashley Banjo rose to fame as the leader of the dance group Diversity, Diversity appeared in Britain’s Got Talent and later went on to establish itself as a household name. The Wizard of Oz marks Banjos’ West End musical debut. Diversity has sold over half a million tickets across 10 sell-outs UK tours, won a BAFTA award and performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at her Platinum Jubilee concert. Banjo has also acted in the Olivier Award-winning production of Dick Whittington and has presented, judged, and produced award-winning television programs such as Britain's Got Talent, Dancing On Ice, and The Real Full Monty.

Jason Manford is a well-known stand-up comedian, with a background in musical theatre, who has had many successful live tours. He played Signor Pirelli in the Olivier-winning production of Sweeney Todd in 2012 and Leo Bloom in The Producers on a UK-wide tour. He also portrayed Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall. Jason has hosted the Olivier Awards for five years and several TV shows, including Unbeatable, Sunday Night at The Palladium, and The Royal Variety Performance. He currently judges on ITV1's Starstruck and will host BBC One's Big Night of Musicals for the second time later this month.

Further casting is yet to be announced.

The story of The Wizard of Oz 

‘I’m melting, I’m melting!’...rewind to the beginning! 

Young farm girl Dorothy Gale passes out during a violent storm and awakes in a vibrant and ethereal world, where little munchkins come forward to welcome her to the land of Oz. Dorothy learns that the Wicked Witch of the East, who had been ruling over the munchkins, is gone, crushed by the house that landed on her during the storm. The munchkins, grateful for Dorothy's inadvertent help, celebrate her arrival in Oz and gift her the witch's magical ruby red slippers!

Dorothy is told by Glinda the Good Witch that in order to return home to Kansas, she must seek the help of the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City. Along the way, she meets a group of unlikely companions, a shedding scarecrow, a rusty tin man and a cowardly lion. Together, they face many obstacles and dangers, including a deadly encounter with the Wicked Witch of the West, who seeks to rip the magical slippers from Dorothy’s feet. Can Dorothy return home before it’s too late? With brains, courage and plenty of heart - The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the greatest adventure of our time!

The creatives of The Wizard of Oz 

This magnificent production of The Wizard of Oz features the original score from the Academy Award-winning MGM film, including beloved timeless classics such as ‘Over The Rainbow', 'Follow The Yellow Brick Road', and 'We're Off To See the Wizard', as well as songs from the acclaimed duo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Families of all ages are sure to be enchanted by this magical experience.

Nikolai Foster, known for his work on Billy Elliot The Musical and A Chorus Line, directs the show, with Shay Barclay providing the choreography. The talented creative team includes Colin Richmond as Set Designer, Douglas O’Connell as Projection Designer, Rachael Canning as Costume and Puppet Designer, Ben Cracknell as Lighting Designer, Adam Fisher as Sound Designer, and Mark Kaufman as Creative Consultant. George Dyer serves as both Musical Director and Musical Supervisor, while Kay Magson CDG is the Casting Director. Marcus Hall oversees the Props and Elizabeth Marini is responsible for Wigs, Hair and Makeup Design.

The Wizard of Oz tickets are available now! 

With tickets for The Wizard of Oz, the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. 

By Kevin Thomas

From as early as I can recall, writing has always been my passion. Being able to combine this with my love for theatre has been a rewarding and exhilarating experience. I truly believe that there is magic in seeing a story brought to life on stage, and this is what I would like to promote to audiences.