Cast News: Wizard of Oz
Written by Jamie Griffiths on February 24, 2023
Cast News: Wizard of Oz
Michael Harrison and the Really Useful Group have announced that Jason Manford and Ashley Banjo will star in the The Wizard of Oz, the musical based on the iconic story by L. Frank Baum, which plays a strictly limited season at the world famous London Palladium this summer.
Jason Manford, who is a multi-award-winning stand-up Comedian, Actor, Singer, Writer, Radio and Television Presenter, will play The Cowardly Lion.
Well known for his critically acclaimed live stand-up tours, Jason also has musical theatre credits that include Signor Pirelli in the Olivier-winning production of Sweeney Todd alongside Imelda Staunton & Michael Ball in 2012, Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ The Producers across a UK-wide tour and as Caractacus Potts in the family musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After a short run as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall, Jason also starred as Detective Frank Cioffi in the Kander & Ebb musical, Curtains.
Jason has been the regular host of the Olivier Awards for the past five years as well hosting several shows on tv from daytime quiz show Unbeatable to Sunday Night at The Palladium and The Royal Variety Performance. He can currently be seen on ITV1 every Saturday night judging on the new series of Starstruck. Later this month, he will host BBC One’s primetime show Big Night of Musicals for the second time.
Ashley Banjo is the founder, creative director and choreographer for the dance group Diversity who found fame in 2009 after winning Britain’s Got Talent. He will make his West End musical debut in The Wizard of Oz, in the role of The Tin Man.
The BAFTA award winning group Diversity have achieved what no other dance group has, having sold well over half a million tickets across their 10 sell out UK tours. Diversity have numerous television performances to their name and won a BAFTA award for the Must See Moment of 2020 for their iconic performance on Britain’s Got Talent. Ashley was recently awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours 2022 for services to dance and last year Ashley and Diversity were privileged to perform for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at her Platinum Jubilee concert.
As well as his own tours with Diversity, on the stage, Ashley starred in the Olivier Award winning production of Dick Whittington and went on to headline a further five productions, showcasing not only his dance but also his acting and comedic talent. Aside from his on stage achievements Ashley is well known for his television roles; he has presented, judged and produced many award-winning programmes including Britain’s Got Talent, Dancing On Ice and the Emmy and BAFTA award winning The Real Full Monty. Further star casting is to be announced.
Join Dorothy and Toto on an unforgettable adventure as they are swept over the rainbow to the merry old land of Oz.
Featuring the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See the Wizard – with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – this spectacular production will be a magical experience for all the family.
Directed by Nikolai Foster (Billy Elliot The Musical, A Chorus Line) The Wizard of Oz has choreography by Shay Barclay, Set Designer is Colin Richmond, Projection Designer is Douglas O’Connell, Costume and Puppet Designer is Rachael Canning, Lighting Designer is Ben Cracknell, Sound Designer is Adam Fisher, Creative Consultant is Mark Kaufman, Musical Director and Musical Supervisor is George Dyer, Casting Director is Kay Magson CDG, Props Supervisor is Marcus Hall Props and Wigs, Hair and Makeup Designer is Elizabeth Marini.
Follow the yellow brick road next summer to The London Palladium!