Anthony Warlow, one of Australia’s leading musical theatre performers, is to play The Wizard and Professor Marvel in The Wizard of Oz. As announced by producers John Frost and Suzanne Jones, Warlow will star in the much-loved musical when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London Palladium production comes to Australia at the end of the year. The show will open in Brisbane in November, then travel to Sydney in December.
This new stage adaptation of Frank Baum’s book and the iconic 1939 movie includes all the beloved songs from the Academy Award-winning score including Over The Rainbow, We’re Off To See The Wizard and Follow The Yellow Brick Road, as well as some additional songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice among them a new opening number for Dorothy and a number for the Wicked Witch called Red Shoes Blues.
Warlow has been charming audiences since his made his debut in 1981 at age 19 in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Australian Opera. His other opera roles include Gabriel Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Papageno in The Magic Flute and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has also performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore.
Warlow made his musical theatre debut in 1985 as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. His other many musical theatre credits include, among others, the title role in the original Australian production of The Phantom of the Opera, Enjolras in the original Australian production of Les Misérables, the title role in the Australian premiere of Doctor Zhivago: The Musical and two Australian tours of Annie. Most recently, he turned in a sublime performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.
Warlow made his Broadway debut as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in Annie in 2013. He has since performed on Broadway in Finding Neverland and last year won the 32nd Helen Hayes Awards in Washington for his performance in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Man of La Mancha.
“It’s been 16 years since the last Australian tour of The Wizard of Oz,” said John Frost, on behalf of his co-producers. “It’s time to travel the yellow brick road and return to Oz, and the classic story that’s universally loved. This beautiful, sumptuous production was a huge hit in London and the US, and audiences adored the new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.”
“It’s also very exciting to welcome Anthony Warlow back to Australia to star in the title role, and I can’t wait to discover a talented young actress to wear Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and sing one of the most-beloved songs of all time, Over The Rainbow,” added Frost.
The London Palladium production of The Wizard of Oz. Photograph © Daniel A Swalec
This new adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, which is directed by Jeremy Sams, had its world premiere at the London Palladium Theatre in March 2011. After a successful West End run, the production opened in Toronto in December 2012 and then embarked on a US tour from September 2013.
In a three-star review of the London production, The Guardian praised the dazzling spectacle, saying that “the star of the show is undoubtedly the set and costume designer, Robert Jones”, but felt that the show was somewhat “lacking in humanity”.
However, the Sunday Telegraph had no such qualms saying: “Brilliant… A ten-star production if ever there was one!”
Tickets for The Wizard of Oz go on sale on Monday May 29 in Sydney and on Monday June 5 in Brisbane