Friday, February 15

Cast change announced for Tina the Musical

It has just been announced that Nkeki Obi-Melekwe and Ashley Zhangazha will join the cast of  Tina the Musical  as Tina and Ike Turner taking over from Adrienne Warren and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith who  will continue in the roles until 13th April 2019.  As previously announced,Warren is to play the lead of Tina when it opens on Broadway. They will join the show from 15th April.

Obi-Melekwe is currently making her off-Broadway debut in Alice By Heart, a new musical by Duncan Sheik.  

Zhangazha was the  Winner of the 2018 UK Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical for his portrayal of Skye in the Royal Exchange production of Guys & Dolls.

Aisha Jawando will play the role of Tina at some performances each week and the rest of the cast will include Irene-Myrtle Forrester as Tina's Grandmother GG, Howard Gossington as Record Producer Phil Spector and Lyricist Terry Britten.

Francesca Jackson continues to play Ike and Tina's manager Rhonda Graam, Jammy Kasongo will play Tina's father Richard Bullock and Tina's first love Raymond Hill, Edward Bourne will play record company marketing manager Erwin Bach and Oscar Batterham will play Tina's manager Roger Davies. Maria Omakinwa joins the company to play the role of Tina's mother Zelma until 22 June 2019, when Madeline Appiah will rejoin the company in that role. Final casting will be announced shortly.

They are joined by ensemble members Daniella Bowen, Chloe Chambers, Joelle Dyson, Sia Kiwa, Lejaun Sheppard, Kibong Tanji, Cameron Bernard Jones who also plays Tina's son Craig and Ashlee Irish who plays Tina's son Ronnie and Joseph Richardson, and swings Gavin Alex, Derek Aidoo, Joshua Da Costa, Amandla Elynah, Hannah Jay-Allan, Angela Marie Hurst, Leisha Mollyneaux and Samuel J Weir.

Thursday, February 14

Initial casting announced for tour of Amelie the Musical

The first casting has just been announced for the UK premiere of the musical Amélie, which opens at Newbury in April.

Audrey Brisson, who  previously starred in Pinocchio at the National Theatre as well as the UK tours of La Strada and The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, will play the title role in the show, with further casting to be announced.

Based on the five-time Oscar-nominated 2001 film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant which starred Audrey Tautou, the musical was first staged in California in 2015 before running on Broadway. It tells the story of Amélie Poulain, a Parisian woman who improvises small acts of kindness and falls for a strange man.

Brisson said: "Bonjour, je m'appelle Audrey Brisson et c'est avec un immense plaisir que je m'apprête à jouer le rôle d'Amelie Poulain. translation:  I am really looking forward to sharing this journey filled with imagination and quirkiness that Amélie will concoct for us. Until then, à bientôt. (Have a raspberry on me!)"

Chichester Festival Theatre announces Oklahoma! and This is My Family as 2019 musicals

Chichester Festival Theatre’s 2019 Festival 2019 has been announced today by Artistic Director Daniel Evans.  It includes two musicals, one modern, one classic:
  • Tim Firth’s THIS IS MY FAMILY, with James Nesbitt, Sheila Hancock and Clare Burt, directed by Daniel Evans 
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! with Josie Lawrence, Hyoie O’Grady and Amara Okereke, directed by Jeremy Sams
New for 2019 is The Spiegeltent, a unique venue for an eclectic range of events. 

OKLAHOMA! Music by Richard Rodgers Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs Original choreography by Agnes de Mille Directed by Jeremy Sams 15 July – 7 September, Festival Theatre Press night: Monday 22 July.

With its glorious score and spirit of exuberant optimism, Oklahoma! is the American musical by which all others are judged. Rodgers and Hammerstein broke new ground in perfectly integrating music and dance to tell a story whose darker undercurrents never overwhelm its rapturous vitality. Among the unforgettable songs are Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top and the show-stopper Oklahoma. 

Jeremy Sams returns to Chichester to direct; his award-winning productions in London and New York include The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Noises Off and Spend, Spend, Spend. Set designs are by Robert Jones whose extensive work at Chichester includes Mack & Mabel and Kiss Me, Kate. Choreography is by Matt Cole whose recent work includes Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.

Josie Lawrence, whose stage work ranges from Shakespeare at the RSC and Globe to The King and I in the West End, plays Aunt Eller. Her extensive television credits include Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Humans and Outside Edge, and she makes regular appearances at the Comedy Store.
Hyoie O’Grady plays Curly; he recently played Enroljas in Les Misérables in the West End, having graduated from London’s Mountview Academy of Arts last year. 

Also making her Chichester debut, as Laurey, is Amara Okereke, winner of the 2018 Stage Debut Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Cosette in Les Misérables. 

Costume designs are by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, with musical supervision, musical direction and dance arrangements by Nigel Lilley, orchestrations by David Cullen, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis.
Imagine you’re a spirited 13-year-old and you’ve won – actually won – a magazine competition to describe your family. The prize is a dream holiday for the lot of you, anywhere in the world. 

Except... Nicky’s family isn’t the blissfully happy bunch she’s described. More like the contestants in a gladiatorial arena, in fact. Where on earth can she take them that might make her wishful thinking a reality? 

THIS IS MY FAMILY A musical by Tim Firth Directed by Daniel Evans 20 April – 15 June, Minerva Theatre Press night: Monday 29 April.

Winner of the 2013 UK Theatre Award for Best Musical, this hilarious musical comedy, which moves seamlessly between speech and song, is a celebration of the lifelong adventure that is family love. 

Book, lyrics and music are by Tim Firth, the award-winning writer of many celebrated hits including Calendar Girls and Neville’s Island at Chichester. This is My Family is his first original solo musical. The production is directed by Artistic Director Daniel Evans whose previous work at Chichester includes Me and My Girl and Flowers for Mrs Harris (2018), Fiddler on the Roof and Quiz (2017).

James Nesbitt (Cold Feet, The Missing) makes his Chichester debut whilst Sheila Hancock makes a welcome return; her more recent work includes Sister Act in the West End. Clare Burt also returns to Chichester following her acclaimed performance in Flowers for Mrs Harris (2018). They are joined by Kirsty MacLaren, Rachel Lumberg and Scott Folan

This Is My Family will be designed by Richard Kent, with musical supervision, musical direction and orchestrations by Caroline Humphris, lighting by David Plater, sound by Paul Arditti and movement by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille. 

Priority booking for Friends of Chichester Festival Theatre opens: Saturday 23 February (online and booking forms only) Wednesday 27 February (phone and in person)
Booking for Groups and Schools opens: Thursday 28 February
General booking opens: Saturday 2 March (online only) Tuesday 5 March (phone and in person)

Tuesday, February 12

Cast change announced for the UK and Ireland tour of Calendar Girls

New casting has been announced for the ongoing UK and Ireland tour of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth's musical comedy Calendar Girls. Based on the true story and the award-winning play by Firth, will now star Sarah Jane Buckley (Blood Brothers) as Annie, Sue Devaney (Dinnerladies) as Cora, Julia Hills (Broadchurch) as Ruth, Judy Holt (Cold Feet) as Marie and Lisa Maxwell (Hollyoaks) as Celia. Ruth Madoc and Rebecca Storm will continue to play Jessie and Chris respectively. 

The new cast will begin in Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on 22nd  April, with Karen Dunbar returning to the show for a run in Glasgow between 11 and 22 June

Also in the cast are Phil Corbitt as John, Ian Mercer as Rod, Sebastian Aberneri as Colin, Alan Stocks as Denis, Pauline Daniels as Lady Cravenshire, Ellie Leah as Miss Wilson, Danny Howker as Danny, Isabel Caswell as Jenny and Tyler Dobbs as Tommo.

Saturday, February 9

Sheridan Smith and Stephen Merchant to star in new BBC drama The Barking Murders

Sheridan Smith  and Stephen Merchant are starring in new BBC1 factrual drama The Barking Murders (working title), which starts filming this spring. It is about the Stephen Port murders: a deeply disturbed individual who brutally murdered  four innocent young gay men (Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor) who fell foul of him and their families and friends who worked tirelessly to find out what happened to them. Stephen Port received a life sentence with a whole life order in November 2016.

From Jeff Pope and Neil McKay (award-winning team behind The Moorside and Appropriate Adult) the new factual drama tells the of Stephen Port’s victims  from the point of view of the families , telling the story from a fresh perspective considering the impact of these crimes rather than the crimes themselves. Exploring  the challenges the police faced in identifying the serial nature of the killings.

Stephen Merchant (Fighting With My Family, Extras, The Office) will play Stephen Port, and Sheridan Smith (The Moorside, Care, Mrs Biggs) will play Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate. Also joining the cast is Jaime Winstone (Five Daughters, Babs) as Donna Taylor, one of the sisters of Jack Taylor. The director is David Blair (Care, Reg).

News of broadcast dates to follow.

Friday, February 8

Waitress Musical extends booking period to October

With its first preview performance  in the West End tonight,  Waitress Musical has announced that more tickets have been released and the show has extended its booking period to 19th October at the Adelphi. The Tony-nominated musical by Sara Bareilles has its official opening night on 7th March

The production has also just announced that a limited number of day seats will be available to purchase in person from the theatre box office for £25 (from 10:00 am, Mon-Weds performances only, subject to availability and at the box office's discretion).

Wednesday, February 6

Titanic Musical to go on European tour later this year

Thom Southerland's production of Titanic the Musical, which originally opened at Southwark Playhouse in 2013,  is to go on a European tour later this year starting  at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 11th-13th July  before heading off  to Munich, Cologne, Mannheim and Moscow until 1st September.

Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's musical tells of what happened when the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg and sunk on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York and 1517 men, women and children lost their lives.

The production returned to London in 2016 to run at the Charing Cross Theatre and then embarked on a UK and Ireland tour in April 2018.

Jaymi Hensley from Union J to lead cast in new Joseph tour

Jaymi Hensley, from X Factor boyband Union J is to play the lead role in Bill Kenwright's new touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which opens at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 20th February with Gary Lloyd providing some new choreography. He will be joined by Trina Hill/ Narrator, Andrew Geater/ Pharaoh,  Henry Metcalfe/Jacob with brothers Joshua Robinson, Callum Connolly, Alex Hetherington, Arthur Boan, Matt Jolly, Mikey Jay-Heath, George Beet, Lewis Asquith. Ed Tunningley and Corey Mitchell and handmaidens Amber Kennedy, Eve Norris and Gemma Pipe

This will be Jaymi's  first role in a major musical. Having risen to fame on The X Factor, Union J went on to have a top ten album and a major UK tour. Jaymi later appeared on a number of hit TV shows, including BBC1's Celebrity Masterchef.

Hensley  said: "I cannot describe how excited and honoured I am to be stepping into the prestigious coloured coat! When I think of iconic roles in musical theatre Joseph was always one that I dreamt of playing growing up!"

Casting for the new summer production at The London Palladium is to be announced.

Adrienne Warren to play Tina on Broadway

Adrienne Warren who is currently playing  the title role of Tina in London's West End until April 13th, will reprise her  performance when the show premieres on Broadway later this year. The theatre and dates are still to be confirmed.

Tina Turner said: "I'm so proud of everything that Adrienne has achieved over the last year in the West End. She has given it everything she's got, she has poured her soul into it, and she deserves every success. I am thrilled she will be reprising her role in New York, and I cannot wait to see her on that Broadway stage on Opening Night".

Adrienne Warren said: "Working on this show has been a life-changing experience for me. Tina's unshakable courage, grace and determination have been our constant inspiration, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to be part of this telling of her story. It has been an amazing year in London, working with the incredible Phyllida Lloyd, Katori Hall and the creative team, in a city that has welcomed me with open arms. Returning home to Broadway, in this role and in this show, is a dream come true".

The Tina Turner Musical  and Ghostlight Records have just released the first single from the upcoming cast album, featuring Adrienne Warren .  Click here to watch her recording and performing  "River Deep - Mountain High"

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe to lead cast in fully staged concert version of Les Miserables at Gielgud

The Original London production of Les Miserables is playing at the Queen’s Theatre until 13th  July 2019 when the theatre closes for four months for  rebuilding and restoration work both backstage and in the auditorium.  The restored Queen’s Theatre will reopen in December 2019 a a date to be announced with a new production of Les Miserables continuing its run with a new company currently being  assembled and bookings due to open later this month. You can  hear Alfie Boe making a radio announcement of the show here.

Les Miserables is also on tour until next year.

While the Queen’s Theatre is being restored, Les Miserables  will continue  for a four-month season at the Gielgud Theatre.  Baz in today's Mail has just announced that this will be in the form of a fully staged concert version for a sixteen week run  from August 10th to  30th November starring Michael Ball as Inspector Javert and Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean (for three performances a week the role of Jean Valjean will be played by John Owen-Jones**) with  Carrie Hope Fletcher (Fantine) and Matt Lucas (M.Thenardier) plus Katy Secombe as Madame Thenardier leading  a cast and orchestra of over 65. More casting news and booking details to follow.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh said: "Les Misérables is the only musical ever that has been equally successful on stage, film, in concert and in the classroom. Its spectacular staged concerts are legendary successes, just as popular as the stage show. I am thrilled that the plan to keep Les Misérables running in London with a staged concert version on Shaftesbury Avenue during the enforced closure period has attracted such a stellar cast, with Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Carrie Hope Fletcher, John Owen Jones, Matt Lucas and Katy Secombe, who all have a very close personal connection to the history of the show."

Buy tickets for the show

** John Owen-Jones performance schedule:

Monday - John Owen-Jones
Tuesday - Alfie Boe
Wednesday matinee - John Owen-Jones
Wednesday evening - Alfie Boe
Thursday - John Owen-Jones
Friday - Alfie Boe
Saturday matinee - Alfie Boe
Saturday evening - Alfie Boe

Please also note Michael Ball will NOT perform on 13th & 14th September and Alfie Boe will NOT perform on 14th, 15th or 16th October

Friday, February 1

Kelli O'Hara announces London Concerts

Broadway musical theatre star Kelli O'Hara is to return to London to star in solo concert performances at Cadogan Hall at 2.30pm and 6.30pm on 10th November 2019

She was most recently seen in London playing Anna in The King and I at the Palladium starring  opposite Ken Watanabe. The actress was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy for her portrayal of Katie Bonner in The Accidental Wolf and has a Grammy nomination as well as Drama League and Outer Critics nominations.She won a Tony Award in 2015 for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal Anna Leonowens in The King and I.

The performer is due to star in the Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate this  spring.

Anne-Marie Duff and Arthur Darvill to star in Sweet Charity at Donmar

Baz in today's Mail has just revealed that Josie Rourke, Artistic Director of The Donmar Warehouse, will direct the  musical Sweet Charity as her farewell show at the venue. Wayne McGregor will choreograph. The Donmar show will be set in the sixties ans revisit the strengths of the Fellini film and the 1966 Fosse show with Gwen Verdon, rather than Fosse's subsequent movie with Shirley MacLaine.

The production is set to run from April 6th-June 8th at Donmar, starring Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless, The Virgin Queen, Nowhere Boy and Suffragette) in the title role and  Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who,  Legends of Tomorrow Broadchurch and  Once in the West End and on Broadway.)  as Oscar Lindquist. Not known for musical performances, Duff has an excellent  singing voice. She was in her school choir and ,taught at the Royal Academy of Music in her early teens. She had classical training and at one point was torn between pursuing a career as an opera singer or going to drama school.

Donmar Warehouse top tier members can purchase tickets for the production beginning February 12th. Sales to Donmar Friends will begin February 1th9 and general public booking begins February 21st.The production will also offer "Sweet Fridays" where a limited number of free tickets will be available to audience members ages 25 and under.

Inspired by Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria, SWEET CHARITY explores the turbulent love life of Charity Hope Valentine, a hopelessly romantic but comically unfortunate dance hall hostess in New York City demonstrating the energy, humour and heartbreak of Life in the Big City for an eternal  optimist.With a  score by Cy Coleman (Little Me, City of Angels, Barnum),  lyrics by Dorothy Fields (Annie Get Your Gun, Seesaw, Redhead), and  book by Neil Simon it features classic numbers including Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now and Rhythm of Life.