Andrew Lloyd Webber's New Production of The Wizard of Oz [2011 London Palladium Recording]

by: Michael Crawford

Released just two months after its West End debut, Andrew Lloyd Webber's New Production of the Wizard of Oz is the accompanying soundtrack to the musical maestro's 2011 adaptation of the classic 1939 film. Its 25 tracks include all the numbers performed by the likes of Danielle Hope, the winner of the BBC talent search for the lead role of Dorothy, theater legend Michael Crawford as The Wizard, and Olivier Award nominee Hannah Waddingham as the Wicked Witch of the West. Wisely, the stage show Presario has opted to stick with all but one of the Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg compositions from the Judy Garland-starring original (only "If I Were King in the Forest" is omitted), including Hope's stunning take on "Over the Rainbow," the Munchkins' performance of "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" and "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," and the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion's renditions of "If Only I Had a Brain/Heart/Nerve," respectively. But it's the several brand new songs co-penned with former songwriting partner Tim Rice (their first major collaboration since 1978's Evita) that gives Lloyd Webber's 18th musical its own identity. The characters of Professor Marvel and The Wicked Witch of the West take their chance to shine on their first ever solo pieces, "The Wonders of the World" and "Red Shoes Blues," while there are added numbers for Dorothy ("Nobody Understands Me"), The Wizard ("Bring Me the Broomstick"), and the ensemble ("Already Home"), all of which are worthy additions to the duo's impressive back catalog. While the album unavoidably loses some of the impact (lacking as it does the show's spectacular set designs and special effects), it's still a hugely enjoyable listen which remains faithful to the source material while remaining a quintessential Lloyd Webber affair. ~ Jon O'Brien

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