Meet 'The Wizard of Oz' West End cast

Ashley Banjo, Jason Manford, Gary Wilmot, Dianne Pilkington, and Louis Gaunt will all go over the rainbow — via the London Palladium — in the fantasy musical.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

We’re off to see the Wizard this summer at the London Palladium, as the classic musical The Wizard of Oz comes flying back into the West End — an encore run for Leicester Curve’s hit revival. That means you can enjoy all those beloved songs from the 1939 MGM movie, like “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” and the Academy Award-winning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

As well as Harold Arlen and EY Harburg’s music from The Wizard of Oz movie, this production features fantastic additions from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice — all presented in a spectacular production from Nikolai Foster. It’s definitely family fun, but you’ll also want to watch out for the scary Wicked Witch of the West.

Of course, a production of this magical tale works with an incredible cast filling all the iconic roles and belting out the familiar songs. Happily, there’s plenty of exciting names starring in the London Palladium run this summer. So, follow the Yellow Brick Road through our guide to The Wizard of Oz cast.

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Georgina Onuorah plays Dorothy

Wearing those famous ruby slippers is the super-talented rising star Georgina Onuorah. She reprises the role of Dorothy from the 2022 Leicester Curve production, in which she received plenty of praise for her dynamic lead performance.

It’s not her first time in the West End, either. Onuorah most recently played Ado Annie, taking over from Marisha Wallace, in the gritty West End revival of *Oklahoma!”. Memorably, she performed with the company at this year’s Olivier Awards.

Onuorah also appeared in the musical Millennials at The Other Palace and in Dick Whittington at the National Theatre, plus she was the alternate Cinderella (to Carrie Hope Fletcher) in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.

Jason Manford plays the Cowardly Lion

The popular comedian and actor brilliantly championed the industry by hosting the BBC’s Big Night of Musicals earlier this year. Now Jason Manford is back on stage himself, playing The Cowardly Lion — he teams up with Dorothy and Toto on their way to Oz in the hope of finding courage.

As well as his stellar comedy career, Manford has starred in the UK tours of musicals The Producers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Curtains, and he played lead roles in pantomimes Peter Pan and Jack and the Beanstalk in Manchester.

The Wizard of Oz isn’t Manford’s first West End show either. He played Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi Theatre, and his production of Curtains transferred to the Wyndham’s Theatre. Additionally, he starred as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the Royal Albert Hall.

Ashley Banjo plays The Tin Man

The superstar dancer is best known as the founder and choreographer of the street dance troupe Diversity, the 2009 Britain’s Got Talent winners. The group achieved major success, with many subsequent TV appearances and stage tours.

Ashley Banjo also returned to Britain’s Got Talent as a judge, and has also been on the panel of competition shows like Got to Dance, Dance Dance Dance, and Dancing on Ice. He’s presented various programmes, including The Real Full Monty, Catchphrase: Celebrity Special, and Flirty Dancing.

Although he has a wealth of performing experience to draw upon, The Wizard of Oz marks Banjo’s West End stage debut. He previously appeared in the star-studded Palladium panto Dick Whittington with his dance troupe, but it will be fascinating to see him step up and take on the key role of The Tin Man — who, presumably, will have some nifty moves.

Dianne Pilkington plays The Wicked Witch of the West

It’s good to see her, isn’t it? Yes, musical theatre fans will know Dianne Pilkington from her popular stint as Glinda in the West End production of Wicked. She recently impressed playing Eglantine Price in the world premiere of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on tour.

Those are just a couple of Pilkington’s numerous credits, which also include Only Fools and Horses, Young Frankenstein, Les Misérables and Mamma Mia! in the West End, as well as Cats and Beauty and the Beast on tour, plus she was in the original cast of Boy George’s Taboo.

Of course, Pilkington is already well acquainted with the world of Oz from her time in Wicked, but now she gets to switch and play The Wicked Witch of The West. Seeing this legendary leading lady in full-on villain mode should be a blast.

Louis Gaunt plays the Scarecrow

It’s a return to the Palladium for Louis Gaunt: he recently played the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk. The actor also led Mary Poppins in the West End, playing chimney sweep Bert, so we know he’s got some seriously impressive dance skills in that triple-threat locker.

Gaunt’s other work includes the national tour of Grease, Piaf and Sweet Charity at Nottingham Playhouse, the Sheffield Crucible productions of Standing at the Sky’s Edge and Kiss Me, Kate, Gypsy at the Royal Exchange Theatre, and Oklahoma! at Grange Park Opera. Plus, he’s popped up in Bridgerton and The Larkins.

Now, Gaunt is playing the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. He’s another of Dorothy’s companions, hoping that if he tags along with her to see the Wizard, he might get a brain as a parting gift. Gaunt is a no-brainer casting, given his impressive body of work.

Christina Bianco plays Glinda

The brilliant singer, actress, and comedian Christina Bianco is renowned for her amazing one-woman shows and roles in numerous musicals. Initially a YouTube sensation, she now tours the world with her solo concerts, such as Liza With a Z and More, coming to Brighton this September.

Bianco made her West End debut in the brilliant spoof musical Forbidden Broadway. Her work in New York includes Application Pending, The Marvelous Wonderettes, and Newsical the Musical. She also starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the West End, Funny Girl in Paris, and the 30th anniversary UK tour of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

After playing Glinda in the Curve Leicester production of The Wizard of Oz, Bianco is reprising the role at the London Palladium. Expect a delightful performance with impeccable vocals — and perhaps some wickedly funny moments.

Gary Wilmot plays the Wizard and Professor Marvel

The veteran actor is a panto superstar, appearing in multiple pantomimes at the London Palladium. He also recently appeared in Anything Goes at the Barbican and The Prince of Egypt in the West End — just the latest in a long career packed with exciting work.

Gary Wilmot first rose to fame on the talent show New Faces, and later presented other TV programmes like So You Want To Be Top and Showstoppers. He’s a stage regular too, appearing in West End shows like Me and My Girl, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Pajama Game, plus Flowers for Mrs. Harris at Chichester Festival Theatre.

He’s performed in The Wizard of Oz before, playing the Scarecrow in Southampton and the Cowardly Lion at the Royal Festival Hall, and, like Pilkington, he’s starred in Wicked, playing The Wizard in the West End in 2022. So, it should be fascinating to see how he draws on all that experience while taking up the titular role in The Wizard of Oz at the Palladium.

The Wizard of Oz ensemble

The Wizard of Oz ensemble will star Ben Thompson as Toto, Dorothy's canine friend. Annie Southall, Charlotte St.Croix, Claire O’Leary, Eamonn Cox, Emily Ann Potter, Geoff Aymer, Harrison Wilde, Jacqui Dubois, Jessica Daley, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Lauren Stroud, Marley Fenton, Michael Lin, and Sam Stones complete the company.

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