Dorothy is played by Danielle Hope, the winner of Lloyd Webber’s talent contest on the BBC. Hope has big red shoes to fill and she did so brilliantly. She’s a pretty girl, with lustrous brown hair and an extremely sweet voice. Her Somewhere Over the Rainbow sent shivers down my spine. But far more dazzling than any of the performances – except the Wicked Witch of the West, who is played with screeching glee by Hannah Waddingham – was the set. I was quite literally blown away by the whirling vortex of the tornado that sends Dorothy to Oz; the luscious field of poppies with which the Wicked Witch lures Dorothy and her tired troupe; Emerald City with its population of green and sparkly-clad citizens and the Witch’s majestic, macabre iron fortress in the deep forest infested with lions, tigers and bears.
Dorothy’s companions – the Scarecrow, Tin Man and lion – are likeable, but the best of them is the Jim Carey-esque Tin Man (Edward Baker-Duly). The Good Witch of the North (love that title) wears a dress so dazzling it’s worth going to see it alone. The show is a factory-produced slice of dazzle. Kids will enjoy it but whether it’ll haunt their dreams is another matter. At the London Palladium