Saturday, October 13

Musical Theatre News provides the latest information and all you need to know about musicals which are playing or about to open in London's West End as well as full details of touring musicals and concerts in the UK. We provide all the booking details and information you need to help you decide on the right show for you. We also have a Facebook Page where you can post your comments or you can follow TheatreSpy on Twitter to get the latest news and gossip.
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Monday, November 20

ALFIE BOE HOMECOMING CONCERT Presale tickets available today

International singing star Alfie Boe is to return to his home town for a special one-off concert at Fleetwood Town FC’s Highbury Stadium on Saturday June 2nd.

Tickets to Homecoming  are available from £30 and go on general sale at 09:00  am Friday November 24 from Ticketmaster.  (£2 from every ticket sold to the Homecoming concert will be donated to the Fylde coast’s Trinity Hospice, where Alfie is a patron). Buy presale tickets from 09:00 on 23rd November.

Speaking about the concert Alfie said: “Being Fleetwood born and bred and a fully fledged member of the Cod Army it’s an honour and a privilege to be performing back in my home town and at my team’s home ground.I hold Fleetwood close to my heart and I’m so happy to be coming back to entertain family and friends.”

The UK’s most beloved tenor was celebrated in his hometown earlier this year as part of BBC Music Day when a plaque was unveiled at Marine Hall - the theatre where he made his stage debut at the age of 14 in 1987. Alfie joined the likes of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and George Michael to be honoured in this way recognising pioneering musicians around the UK.

Friday, November 17

Full cast announced for Tina the Musical

Full casting has just been announced for Tina The Musical based on the life and career of  Tina Turner.

As previously announced, Adrienne Warren will take the lead in the musical portraying Tina Turner with Kobna Holbrook Smith (pictured) as singer and music arranger Ike Turner, who controlled Tina physically, mentally and legally for over two decades. He is best known for his work in films such as Doctor Strange, Paddington 2 and  will also be seen in the upcoming films Mary Poppins Returns and Justice League. Tina said It might be painful having to watch him on stage,but I know he’s being played by an actor and he can’t hurt me. Once she rid herself of Ike, she never spoke to or saw him again before he died in 2007. 

Madeline Appiah plays Tina’s mother Zelma Bullock and Jenny Fitzpatrick will play the alternate Tina. Gerard McCarthy has been cast as marketing executive Erwin Bach who later became very significant to Tina, with Ryan O’Donnell playing her astute manager Roger Davies, and Lorna Gayle will play Tina's Grandmother GG, Tom Godwin plays record producer Phil Spector and lyricist Terry Britten, Francesca Jackson plays Ike and Tina's manager Rhonda Graam and Aisha Jawando is Tina's sister Alline Bullock, Aisha J, Sia Kiwa, and Tanisha Spring play the iconic Ikettes who were the backing vocalists for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and also recorded discs in their own right. Natey Jones will play Tina's father Richard Bullock and Tina's first love Raymond Hill

They are joined by ensemble members Tsemaye Bob-Egbe, Keisher Downie, Kit Esuruoso who also plays Tina's son Craig Hill, Jammy Kasongo, Sia Kiwa, Jason Langley, Kayleigh McKnight, Baker Mukasa and Tanisha Spring and swings Derek Aidoo, Gavin Alex, Edward Bourne, Candace Furbert, Hannah Jay-Allan and Rodney Vubya.

The King and I confirmed for Palladium next June

The Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I has been confirmed for a limited run at the London Palladium next year,officially beginning  previews  on June 21st , 2018 (press night 3rd July) and running until 4th August  Tickets went on sale from 10:00am today.

It will star the original Broadway leads  with  Kelli O’Hara reprising her Tony Award-winning performance as Anna and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe as the King of Siam. Director Bartlett Sher reunites the original creative team of Catherine Zuber (Tony Award winner for Best Costume), set designer Michael Yeargan, lighting designer Donald Holder, sound designer Scott Lehrer and choreography by Christopher Gattelli based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Set in 1860s Bangkok, and hailed as one of Rodgers & Hammerstein's finest works, The King and I has  a cast of more than 50 and  a score featuring classics including  Getting To Know You; Hello, Young Lovers; Shall We Dance?; I Have Dreamed; and Something Wonderful.  The musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the imperious King brings to Siam to tutor his many wives and children.

Buy tickets for The King and I

Friday, November 10

Heaven on Earth arena tour cancelled

According to cast members the new Heaven on Earth musical arena tour starring Kerry Ellis, Hugh Maynard and Russell Watson as the Voice of God which was due to open next month has been cancelled

Directed and choreographed by Racky Plews (American Idiot), the new musical retelling  the Bible story of Adam and Eve was due to open at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham in December before touring the UK.

An email sent by producers Eden International Productions to company members said: It is with great regret that I have to inform that the company is experiencing significant financial difficulties at present due to promised funding not materialising.Please be advised that no rehearsals are to go ahead following this email unless otherwise stated in writing.

A further email from Andrew Burt of Eden International Productions said: We have found ourselves in a situation that we never foresaw, where investment funds have been delayed, beyond our control.I am so very sorry to tell you that, following advice received, Eden International Productions Ltd will be shortly placed into liquidation and will cease to trade. This matter has now been taken out of our hands and unfortunately this means that no wage payments can be made tomorrow.

Ticketholders are advised to contact their point of sale to obtain a refund.

Cast announced for The Rat Pack - Live From Las Vegas

Final casting has been announced for the West End production of the Olivier Award-nominated The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas, which returns to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket (where it had its  first West End run in 2003)  for a strictly limited season from Wednesday 13th  December to Saturday 3rd February.

The cast features Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra, Nigel Casey (Dean Martin), David Hayes (Sammy Davis Jr), with Joanna Walters, Amelia Adams, Rebecca Parker and Laura Darton as The Burrelli Sisters.  Nicola Emmanuelle will also join the show from Tuesday 9th January to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald.

Songs featured in this special edition of the production will include Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp, Mack the Knife and S’Wonderful.

Director and choreographer Sebastian said: We are thrilled to introduce Ella Fitzgerald to the show for 2018 in both the West End and later UK tour dates, to celebrate the centenary of this great singer’s birth.

From 13th December to 6th January, The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas, which is  devised, directed and choreographed by Mitch Sebastian,will have a Christmas theme with their unique take on  festive classics including Baby It’s Cold Outside, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells and Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow. Matthew Freeman is musical director of the 12-piece Rat Pack Big Band is

Garrett Phillips (Frank Sinatra): is an Irish actor and singer Phillips who is a familiar face on screen and stage, having starred in five series of the popular TV drama Ros Na Rún as Dr Cathal Hennessy. His musical theatre roles have included Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cliff in Cabaret, Melvin Thorpe in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Doody in Grease.

Nigel Casey (Dean Martin) has enjoyed enormous success across Europe since he began his career as Greaseball in Starlight Express. His other starring roles include Billy Flynn in Chicago, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Danny in Grease, both Bernardo and Riff in West Side Story, Monty in Saturday Night Fever and the Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicor Dreamcoat.

David Hayes (Sammy Davis Jr) has performed in The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas in the West End, touring the UK, in Germany, Denmark and across the US. Sammy Davis Jr actually saw Hayes perform as him in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and said: “That was the best singing impersonation of me that I’ve ever heard!”

Nicola Emmanuelle (Ella Fitzgerald) is London-born and  comes from a South African jazz dynasty: her father, Nathan ‘Dambuza’ Mdledle, was the founder and lead singer of the Manhattan Brothers and a hall of famer; her mother, Louisa Manuel, also in the South African hall of fame, was a singer with the ‘Woodpeckers’. Her understanding of the feel and swing of the best of the past, and her own contemporary iconic style and individuality, adds to and supports a voice of mesmerising purity and beauty.

Jonny Labey, Zizi Strallen and Will Young cast in Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom

Baz Bamigboye has just revealed  initial casting  for the  West End production of Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom which will directed by Drew McOnie and open at London's Piccadilly Theatre on 11th April with previews starting on 16th March. Jonny Labey and Zizi Strallen will lead the cast while Will Young (who is currently appearing as the Emcee in the tour of Cabaret)  takes on the specially created role of a band leader.

The company  will also include  Michelle Bishop (Thoroughly Modern Milly, Sunset Boulevard) as Pam Short, Ivan De Freitas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Aladdin) as Merv, Gabriela Garcia (In The Heights, Ghost) as Vanessa Cronin, Charlotte Gooch (Top Hat, Dirty Dancing) as Tina Sparkle, Richard Grieve (Neighbours, Emmerdale and Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Les Kendall, Liam Marcellino (Cabaret, Miss Saigon) as Wayne Burns, Stephen Matthews (The Lion King, The Producers) as Doug Hastings, Fernando Mira (ENO, Victorian State Opera) as Rico, Eve Polycarpou (Villa Thalia, In The Heights) as Abuela, Lauren Stroud (Top Hat, Hairspray) as Liz Holt & Gary Watson (Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, A Chorus Line, Jersey Boys) as Ken Railings with Chris Bennett, Chrissy Brooke, Hannah Fairclough, Selina Hamilton, Christopher D Hunt, Luke Jackson, Justin-Lee Jones, Robin Kent, Jacob Maynard, Leanne Pinder, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda & Dale White
Jonny Labey played Paul Coker in EastEnders and won ITV’s Dance, Dance, Dance in 2017. Labey's credits include shows including In the Heights and White Christmas.  He will play Scott Hastings, a young man who longs to invent new dance steps when he enters the fictional Pan-Pacific dance competition.

Zizi Strallen's  theatre credits include the titular role in the UK tour of Mary Poppins, Merrily We Roll Along, Carmen most recently sheappeared in Follies at the National. She plays Fran, a shy cleaner who has moves of her own, but is too scared to use them  until Scott shows her how to shake it up.


Wednesday, November 8

More dates added to Hairspray tour

In response to  public demand the UK tour of  Hairspray which opened 11 weeks ago has today announced it will extend into August of next year.  Mark Goucher has  announced eight additional venues including Stoke, Oxford, Newcastle, Eastbourne, York, Swansea, Bournemouth plus a return to Dublin.

Monday, November 6

David Thaxton to join Les Miserables

Cameron Mackintosh has just announced that from Monday 22nd  January 2018, David Thaxton will return to the cast of  Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre in the role of 'Javert'.

He previously played 'Javert' in 2014, and has also played the role of  Enjolras.  His additional theatre credits include Giorgio in "Passion" at The Donmar Warehouse, for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, Pilat' in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Regent's Park Theatre, Raoul in "Love Never Dies" at the Adelphi and 'Major John Howard' in "Only The Brave" at Wales Millennium Centre.

David will join Olivier Award nominee Killian Donnelly as 'Jean Valjean', Carley Stenson as 'Fantine', Steven Meo as 'Thénardier', Karis Jack as 'Eponine', Jacqueline Tate as 'Madame Thénardier", Hyoie O'Grady as 'Enjolras', Paul Wilkins as 'Marius' and Charlotte Kennedy as 'Cosette'.

From 22 January 2018 the full company will be: Emma Barr; Adam Bayjou; Oliver Brenin; Ciarán Bowling; Hugo Chiarella; Andy Conaghan; Killian Donnelly; Alice Ellen Wright; Sophie-May Feek; Hyoie O'Grady; Catherine Hannay; Antony Hansen; Holly-Anne Hull; James Hume; Karis Jack; Ciaran Joyce; Charlotte Kennedy; Katie Kerr; Rebecca Lafferty; Jo Loxton; John Lumsden; Anna McGarahan; Steven Meo; Jonny Purchase; Lauren Soley; Carley Stenson; Jacqueline Tate; Shaq Taylor; George Tebbutt; David Thaxton; Lee Van Geleen; Danny Whitehead and Paul Wilkins.

Friday, November 3

Full casting for West End transfer of Girl from the North Country featuring music of Bob Dylan

Full casting has just been announced for the West End transfer of Conor McPherson's play Girl from the North Country which originally opened at the Old Vic earlier this year.  The West End transfer runs at the Noel Coward Theatre from 29th December 2017 to 24th March 2018.

Joining the production is Hannah Azuonye, Mary Doherty, David Ganly as Mr Burke, Adam James as Dr Walker, Karl Johnson as Mr Perry and Emmanuel Kojo.They will jointhe returning cast which includes Sheila Atim, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, Arinze Kene, Tim McMullan and Debbie Kurup.

The piece is set Dylan's home town of Duluth, Minnesota in the midst of the Great Depression and is named after a track Dylan wrote in 1963 called Girl From The North Country. It revolves around a guest house, focusing on the family who run it.  They are a  family adrift, their future on a knife edge. Lost and lonely people drifting through rooms of their guesthouse. But Nick Laine thinks he’s seen a way out…

It includes songs spanning the five decades of Dylan’s career — featuring classics  Like A Rolling Stone, Forever Young, Make You Feel My Love and Time Out Of Mind, as well as tunes that people probably don’t have in their Dylan collections. ‘There’ll be known songs, and unknown songs. But they’re all great songs.’ The show’s instruments and arrangements will have a Thirties feel. The on-stage band will use steel guitars, harmoniums, mandolins and harmonicas.


Amelia Lily joins cast of Shrek Tour

Final casting has been announced for the UK tour of Shrek - The Musical, which opens in Edinburgh next month with X Factor's  Amelia Lily (American Idiot)  sharing the role of Princess Fiona from April 2018) with  Laura Main (Call the Midwife). Also already announced is Steffan Harri in the title role alongside Marcus Ayton as Donkey and Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad.

Amelia Lily finished third on the eighth series of the X Factor in 2011. Her debut single 'You Bring Me Joy' reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. Theatre credits include playing the Narrator in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour), Whatsername in the West End premiere of Green Day's hit punk rock musical American Idiot (Arts Theatre & UK Tour) and Shout! (Winter Gardens Blackpool). Most recently Amelia was runner up in the 2017 edition of Celebrity Big Brother.

Thursday, November 2

Beyonce confirmed to play Nala in Disney's remake of The Lion King

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has joined the cast of Disney's live-action remake of The Lion King playing lioness Nala - Simba's childhood friend and eventual wife. Her screen credits include Dreamgirls, Epic, Obsessed, Austin Powers in Goldmember. The Lion King will be directed by Jon Favreau and is scheduled to be released in summer 2019.

Donald Glover will voice the role of Simba with other cast members including Keegan Michael-Key (recently seen Off-Broadway in Hamlet) as Kamari,  John Kani as Rafiki, Eric André as Azizi, Florence Kasumba as Shenzi, JD McCrary as Young Simba, and Shahadi Wright Joseph (an alum Broadway's The Lion King) as Young Nala.

They join the previously announced James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, John Oliver as Zazu, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Alfre Woodard as Sarabi and Billy Eichner as Timon.

Disney's remake of the hit 1994 film The Lion King will be a combination of CGI and live action, similar to The Jungle Book remake which was also directed by Favreau. Jeff Nathanson will write the screenplay and songs from the original movie are expected to return; .

The multi-Tony Award-winning musical The Lion King, directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, continues at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway where it  celebrates its 20th anniversary this month and is also running at the Lyceum Theatre in London