Review of 'Wizard of Oz'


Yes, we have all seen the film but what can this new West End production from Andrew Lloyd Webber (with lyrics by Tim Rice) bring to the story? Well, not a lot really but it still looks great with some imaginative staging and spectacular costumes.

If you have been living under a rock, I will briefly explain the story: The young Dorothy (Aviva Tulley) lives with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em on a farm in Kansas. She is having difficultly finding her place in the world, leaving the farm behind where she encounters a friendly travelling pedlar. Unexpectedly a tornado transports her to a mysterious world where she has accidently killed the Wicked Witch of the East much to the despair of her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West (The Vivienne, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner and Dancing on Ice star) who vows her revenge. Good witch Glinda (Emily Bull) tells Dorothy that to return home she will have to seek out the mysterious Wizard of Oz (Alex Bourne) by following a yellow brick road. Along the way she befriends a brainless scarecrow (Benjamin Yates), a cowardly lion (Nic Greenshields) and a heartless tin man (Aston Merrygold of JLS).

Interestingly Dorothy's dog Toto is a puppet operated by Abigail Matthews who is never hidden yet manages to disappear to the audience with an amazing and dynamic puppetry performance. The two headliners here are The Vivienne as the Wicked Witch of the West and Aston Merrygold as the tin man yet their performances are never too over the top, blending in with the wonderful performances of the rest of the cast who really give it their all as they race about on the stage to keep up with the pace of the action. The yellow brick road, for example, consists of several moving sections of yellow brick road that race around the stage with riding actors or others in hot pursuit.

The familiar songs are here including the trademark “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “We're Off to See the Wizard” and “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” which are performed with great talent and sensitivity. It has to be said that the star for me here was Aviva Tulley as Dorothy. A tremendous voice and great talent that draws the audience into her story. She very much is on par with Judy Garland in my books. Absolutely wonderful. The additional music by Webber and Rice blends seamlessly into the original film score but with a slightly more contemporary feel.

An amazing stage adaption of the famous film, the “Wizard of Oz” is a lot of fun, and looks and sounds great with an amazing, energetic, cast. If anything it is perhaps TOO faithful an adaptation of the film, it would have been good to see some more original elements beyond a slightly more existential Dorothy…

The show is approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes long with a 20 minute interval. The show does contain some frightening scenes but is suitable for all ages.

Wizard of Oz Stage

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-12-17

Liverpool Empire

Location: Liverpool (England)

Address: Lime St, Liverpool L1 1JE ENGLAND

Public Transport: NRLOGO Liverpool Lime Street


The Liverpool Empire is a large 2,348 seat theatre located immediately adjacent to Liverpool Lime Street train station. The large auditorium has a single balcony (circle). There a number of bar areas including in the main lobby and at the circle level. The building is in good shape with a relatively recent refurbishment bringing modern in modern facilities and, occasionally, a slightly brutalist feel to the architecture.

The theatre puts on a variety of shows, often with short runs, including shows touring England.

Theatre Interior

The nearest parking is in St. Johns Shopping Centre just a short walk down the road (this is 24 hours).