Friday, July 21

Open auditions and cast changes announced for Motown the Musical

Motown The Musical is now booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre until 5th  January 2019 (with 500,000 new tickets now on sale) and has just announced open auditions for the roles of young Michael Jackson, Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder.
You can register  Brixton Community Base, Talma Road, from 9.15am on Saturday 19 August with budding stars aged 8 to 13 encouraged to apply. More information can be found on the show's website.
From 4th September, new cast members will include  David Albury and Kayi Ushe taking over the roles of Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye respectively. They will perform alongside Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy and Lucy St. Louis as Diana Ross.

Casting announced for Tenderly Rosemary Clooney Musical

Joseph Hodges presents the UK Premiere of Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical at the New Wimbledon Studio from 1st-23rd Sepember (press night 4th September at 7:45 pm).

In Tenderly, Rosemary Clooney’s journey starts with her simple Maysville, Kentucky childhood and follows her rise to Hollywood stardom. With her signature songs woven in and out, we learn both the story of her successes on film, radio, and TV, as well as her struggles in her personal life – with a career fading during the advent of rock-and-roll and her battles with addiction and depression. Audiences stand and cheer as they rejoice at her triumphant comeback and even more successful career as a jazz singer.

Featuring all of your favourite Clooney hits including Someone to Watch Over Me, Hey There (you with the stars in your eyes), Mambo Italiano, Sway, Come On-A My House, and the unforgettable title track Tenderly.

Katie Ray will star as Rosemary Clooney. Her  recent theatre credits include Dyanne in the UK tours  of Million Dollar Quartet, Truly Sc 

Fed Zanni will playClooney’s Doctor and other roles including Clooney’s lovers. His recent theatre credits include The 12 Tenors (EuropeanTour), Somewhere in England (NewWimbledonTheatre) and Jesus in Jesus ChristS uperstar.
Tania Azevedo will direct the production with musical direction from Daniel Jarvis,musical staging by Chi-­San Howard,design by AnnaYates, lighting by Ali Hunter and casting by HarryBlumenau.

Tickets for Tenderly Rosemary Clooney Musical

Cast announced for John Wilson Orchestra Oklahoma! at the BBC Proms:

A star studded cast has today been revealed for the BBC Proms performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Friday 11 August, 2:00pm & 7:30pm - Royal Albert Hall, London).
Actress Belinda Lang takes up the role of Aunt Eller and is joined by musical theatre stars Nathaniel Hackmann as Curly, Scarlet Strallen as ‘Laurey’ with Robert Fairchild/Will Parker, David Seadon-Young/Jud Fry , Lizzy Connolly/Ado Annie  and comedian Marcus Brigstocke/Ali Hakim   together with a supporting cast of the west end’s leading singers and dancers including Ensemble step outs:Andrew Carnes - Clive Carter (from vocal ensemble) Gertie Cummings - Melle Stewart (from female vocal ensemble)Ike Skidmore - Emmanuel Kojo (from vocal ensemble)Cord Elam - James Leece (from dance ensemble)

 Oklahoma! was the first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1943 and is based on Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs. It includes classic hits such as Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, People Will Say We’re in Love and the title tune, Oklahoma.

The semi-staged production is masterminded by stage director Rachel Kavanaugh and choreographer Alastair David, accompanied by conductor John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra. This year marks ten years since John Wilson first performed at the BBC Proms and eight years since the John Wilson Orchestra made its Proms debut. His much-loved appearances with the John Wilson Orchestra at the festival continue to grow in ambition, with this production being no exception.  The show will be Broadcast  live on BBC Radio 3 and televised on BBC Four the same evening.

Noel Sullivan and John Owen-Jones to star in Tiger Bay Musical

Noel Sullivan (Danny Zuko in Grease, Galileo in We Will Rock You) and John Owen-Jones have been cast in the world premiere of Tiger Bay the Musical which is Wales Millennium Centre's biggest in-house production to date which run from 15th to 25th November 2017

A fictional story of revolution, reconciliation, courage and love, the award-winning creative team - composer: Daf James, writer Michael Williams and director, Melly Still have remained sympathetic to the reality of the era which includes forming a predominantly Welsh cast. The musical tells the story of the notorious underworld of Wales' capital at the turn of the 1900s. Sullivan plays Harbour Master, Séamus O'Rourke, an opportunist, exiled from Africa to make his fortune through unsavoury means on Cardiff Docks. Les Miserables star Owen-Jones will play Cardiff's richest man John Crichton-Stuart.

Also joining the cast is Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduate Vikki Bebb playing  Noel’s love interest, Rowena Pryddy, a shop girl with suffrage ideals. and Welsh schoolgirls Louise Harvey and Ruby Llewellyn who will share the role of tenacious water boy, Ianto.


Stephanie Clift to take over from Lucie Jones in Tour of The Wedding Singer

Stephanie Clift joins the cast of  tour of The Wedding Singer taking over from Lucie Jones who leaving the show to play Elle Woods in the Tour of Legally Blonde from September. Clift will play Holly for the remainder of the 2017 UK tour from 1st August. She joins Jon Robyns as Robbie Hart, Ray Quinn as Glen,  Cassie Compton as Julia and Ruth Madoc as Grandma Rosie.

Clift graduated from ArtsEd in 2013, and has plaed  Lisa in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre. She played Susan in the UK tour of Crush and most recently, Audrey in the UK tour of Little Shop of Horrors. She has also appeared in series two of Broadchurch for ITV and BBC's Christmas special of Call the Midwife.

Friday, July 14

Frances Ruffelle, Tyrone Huntley and Martin Kemp appearing at new Pizza Express live venue

Frances Ruffelle, Tyrone Huntley and Million Dollar Quartet star Martin Kemp are some of the latest additions to the star-studded launch  line-up at Pizza Express Live Holborn which will operate seven nights a week

The new venue has been designed to allow the audience to get close to some of the biggest names in entertainment, with tickets are already on sale for An Audience With Martin Kemp on 31st August,  Ruffelle’s solo show I Say Yeh-Yeh on 3rd September and  Jesus Christ Superstar's Tyrone Huntley on 24th September.

The intimate space in the basement of the newly designed restaurant High Holborn will feature a wide range of music, cabaret, comedy, and ‘audience with’ Q&A sessions.

Ruffelle and Huntley join a long list of previously announced West End star names scheduled to appear including Maria Friedman, Madalena Alberto, Anna-Jane Casey and the casts of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. Kemp’s appearance at the venue will be the first of five ‘audience with’ events.

Tickets for Pizza Express High Holborn

Broadway musical Fun Home to open at Young Vic next June

The UK premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical  Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron is to open at Young Vic from 18th June to 1st  September 2018 (press night is 27 June). New York theatre director Sam Gold is to direct with a UK cast Public booking for the 2017/2018 season opens on Friday 21 July at 10am

Fun Home is a musical adaptation of  Alison Bechdel’s celebrated 2006  novel about growing up gay in a close complicated family. It opened in New York in October 2013, followed by a Broadway run that won five Tony Awards, and a successful US national tour.

Fun Home Tells the story of Alison at three different ages, revealing memories of her uniquely complicated family – her mother, brothers and volatile, brilliant, enigmatic father – that connect with her in surprising new ways.

Tickets for Fun Home

Rachel Tucker November London Concert just announced

Rachel Tucker is returning to London for a solo concert  at Shoreditch Town Hall on 17th November 2017.

West End leading lady Rachel Tucker will follow her recent UK tour with her biggest one to date. The Wicked star will be joined by an eight-piece band led by MD Kris Rawlinson, as well as 50 children from the Stagebox Musical Theatre Choir.The concert will include songs from musicals that she has become famous for as well as new material from her On the Road sessions.

Tucker rose to fame on Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV talent show I'd Do Anything, she has since gone on to play Elphaba in Wicked in the West End and on Broadway, where she also starred in Sting's The Last Ship.

Tickets for Rachel Tucker at Shoreditch Town Hall

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White to return to London later this year

Thom Southerland (Titanic, Grey Gardens, Grand Hotel) is to direct the first ever revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony and Olivier Award-nominated musical The Woman in White at London's Charing Cross Theatre for  a strictly limited 12-week season from 20th November-10th February 2018.

Casting is to be announced, but is it rumoured that negotiations are currently under way for Lara Pitt-Pulford to play Marian Halcombe who lives in a mansion with her younger half-sister Laura Fairlie

The Woman in White is produced by Patrick Gracey, Steven M. Levy and Vaughan Williams by arrangement with The Really Useful Group Limited.It is  tempestuous tale of love, betrayal and greed, adapted from Wilkie Collins’ haunting Victorian thriller, this is the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel’s revised score.

Walter Hartright’s life is changed forever after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed in white, desperate to reveal her chilling secret. When he takes up his position as drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, Marian, he sees in Laura’s face an eerie reflection of the forlorn creature he met previously. Walter and Laura’s feelings for each other are thwarted by her engagement to the sinister Sir Percival Glyde. What is the connection between, Laura, Sir Percival, and the woman in white? Can true love prevail?

Andrew Lloyd Webber told Baz Bamigboye in today's Mail that he and lyricist David Zippel were well aware that the show (which ran  for nineteen months in the West End and three months on Broadway) wasn’t perfect. As is ever the case, there were some things that could have been done better. He and Zippel have been tinkering with it for about three years now, and have given Southerland the tidied up version’ to direct as he sees fit. We’re going to let Southerland  have a free hand in doing it, It’s important to let him have his own directorial take on it.

Southerland said the new Woman In White will be leaner (cuts have been made to the music and libretto; and the problematic second act has been streamlined) and more intimate — and not just because the Charing Cross is a fraction of the size of the Palace where it was last performedSoutherland said; It’s going to be small,Roughly about four people: Marian, Laura, Anne Catherick and Walter Hartright. And then you have the Count,’ he added, referring to Count Fosco (played in a fat suit by Michael Crawford in London and Michael Ball on Broadway), the dastardly aristocrat who charms women in harm’s way. Southerland said his Count will be young and handsome.  

Music Andrew Lloyd Webber | Lyrics David Zippel | Book Charlotte Jones
Director Thom Southerland | Movement Cressida Carré | Set Designer Morgan Large | Costume Designer Jonathan Lipman | Lighting Designer Rick Fisher | Sound Designer  Andrew Johnson | Casting David Grindrod Associates | Orchestrations David Cullen

Wednesday, July 12

Casting announced for Hair at the Vaults

Initial casting has just been announced for for the 50th anniversary production of Hair which transfers from the Hope Mill Theatre to The London Vaults from 11 October to 14 January 2018, with previews from 4 October.
Jonathan O'Boyle will direct the production which transfers following a  run at the Hope Mill Theatre last year. New additions to the cast include Daniel Bailey (Motown), Adam Dawson (West Side Story) and Jessie May (Blondel) who will be joining  returning cast members Natalie Green (Wicked), Laura Johnson (Grease) Shekina McFarlane (Parade), Robert Metson (Bear), Liam Ross-Mills (Les Miserables) Koryann Stevens (West Side Story) and Kirsten Wright (Our Seasons End).

With a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot, Hair is set in the East Village of New York in 1967 and tells the story of a tribe of young people yearning to change the world — under the shadow of the Vietnam War. It features the songs "Aquarius", "Let the Sun Shine In" and "Good Morning Star Shine".

Monday, July 10

Casting announced for The Toxic Avenger

Final casting is announced  for the transfer to the Arts Theatre of the acclaimed rock musical, The Toxic Avenger which runs from Thursday 28 September– Sunday 3 December (Press Night Monday 2 October at 7.00pm).

Joining Mark Anderson, who returns after starring to great acclaim as Melvin/Toxie in the original London production, are: Natalie Hope, Emma Salvo, Oscar Conlon-Morrey and Ché Francis with Peter Bindloss and Sophia Lewis as swings/understudies.

Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult 1984 comedy schlock-horror Troma film, The Toxic Avenger,  The Toxic Avenger The Musical tells the story of the citizens of Tromaville who are crying out for a hero. Enter nerdy Melvin Ferd the Third, an aspiring earth scientist, determined to clean up the state’s major toxic waste problem. When a corrupt Mayor and her government goons get wind of his plans, they vow to stop this heroic feat. Melvin is attacked and tossed into a vat of toxic waste... transforming him instantly into The Toxic Avenger - New Jersey’s first superhero! Toxie is a 7-foot mutant freak with superhuman strength and a supersized heart to match. His aims are to save heavily polluted New Jersey, end global warming, win the heart of the prettiest (blindest) librarian in town - and get home in time for dinner! Prepare to laugh, scream and sing to songs including ‘Who Will Save New Jersey?” “Get the Geek”, “Thank God She’s Blind” “Hot Toxic Love” and “Choose Me, Oprah!” as ‘Toxie’ rocks the house and saves the day! 

Mark Anderson (Melvin/Toxie)
Previous theatre includes: The Toxic Avenger The Musical (Southwark Playhouse); Stiles & Drewe’s Three Little Pigs (International tour); The Book of Mormon Original West End cast (Prince of Wales Theatre); Love Me Tender (National tour); Once Upon A Mattress (Union Theatre); Legally Blonde (National tour); Mary Poppins (National tour); Hello, Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Boy Friend (West End); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Tabard Theatre).

Natalie Hope (Mayor)
Previous theatre includes: Sweet Charity (Manchester Royal Exchange); Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve Theatre); The Commitments (Palace Theatre, West End); Our House (Savoy Theatre, West End); Sister Act (UK tour); Evita (UK tour); Disney’s High School Musical (UK tour); Fame (Shafesbury Theatre, West End and UK tour); Don’t Stop Believing (UK tour); Rocky Horror Show (UK tour); Laughter in the Rain (UK tour); Beyond the Barricade (UK tour).

Emma Salvo (Sarah)
Previous theatre includes: Holy Crap (King’s Head Theatre), Grease (Royal Caribbean), Newsrevue (Canal Cafe Theatre), Sincerely, Mr Toad  (UK tour).

Oscar Conlon-Morrey (White Dude)
Oscar has just graduated and is making his professional debut.

Ché Francis (Black Dude)
Ché has just graduated and is making his professional debut. 

Beverley Knight and Danny Mac to star in Cinderella this Christmas

Beverley Knight (in her pantomime debut) and  Danny Mac are to star in Cinderella at Birmingham Hippodrome which runs from Tuesday 19th  December - 28th  January 2018 

Soul diva and Midlands-born Beverley Knight who is doing her I Love Soulsville Tour later this year will take up her first pantomime role as The Fairy Godmother with Strictly Come Dancing finalist Danny Mac who  recently starred  in On the Town in the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park and who is due to  play Joe Gillis in a Tour of Sunset Boulevard which launches in Septermber.

Revealing this year's casting, Qdos Producer and Director Michael Harrison said: "This year's fantastic line-up will ensure another smash-hit pantomime for Birmingham Hippodrome in 2017/18. With so many stars across the worlds of music, theatre, dance and comedy I'm delighted we've assembled such a stellar cast for Birmingham's ultimate pantomime. Once again there'll be plenty of laughs, surprises and audience participation to look forward to, so audiences should book their tickets to the ball today."
Matt Slack plays Buttons and Cinderella will be played by  pop and television star Suzanne Shaw, who rose to fame via the popular ITV talent search Popstars and the record-breaking music group Hear'Say. Robin Colvill and James Brandon, better known as The Grumbleweeds, will appear as The Broker's Men and completing the line-up will be Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall as the Ugly Sisters.