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Correspondence - casting announced

Ali Ariaie

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for Lucinda Burnett’s powerful new drama Correspondence, which runs at the Old Red Lion Theatre from March 8 to April 2, 2016.

The line up includes Ali Ariaie as Jibreel Jalebi, Joe Attewell as Ben Loveall, Joanna Croll as Fran Loveall, Mark Extance as David Loveall and Jill McAusland as Harriet Pretty.

Ali Ariaie’s theatre credits include Julius Caesar (Crescent Theatre), Medea and The Tale of the Wolf and the Shepherd (Arthur Cotterell Theatre), Points of Departure (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Trust Me (The Drayton Arms Theatre). He has also appeared on television in Raised by Wolves.

Joe Attewell’s theatre work includes One Time Thing (Park Theatre) and The Squeaky Clean (New Wimbledon Studio). He has also appeared on television in Jekyll & Hyde and Holby City.

Joanna Croll’s theatre credits include Romeo & Juliet (Sheffield Theatres), The Mousetrap (60th Anniversary UK Tour), Oh! What A Lovely War (Northern Stage), Wicked Women (Arcola Theatre) and Marieluise and Habitats (Gate Theatre). Her television work includes Luther and Sirens.

Michael Crawford returns to the W/E in The Go-Between

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MICHAEL Crawford – internationally renowned for originating the title role in The Phantom of the Opera and loved by millions for his role as the hapless Frank Spencer in the classic British sitcom, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – will return to London’s West End this summer in a new production of The Go-Between.

Based on the classic novel by L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between is a new musical with a score written by Richard Taylor. The production will run at the Apollo Theatre from June 7 (previews from May 27) to October 15, 2016.

In this deeply moving coming of age story, Michael Crawford plays Leo Colston, a man who can no longer hide from the memories of his past – memories of the gloriously hot summer of 1900 and his days in Norfolk.

Spending the holidays with the family of his school friend Marcus in their luxurious country home, the young Leo finds himself acting as the go-between for the beautiful upper-class Marian and tenant-farmer Ted who are embroiled in a forbidden secret love affair. The innocent Leo gets caught up in the adult atmosphere of deceit and manipulation as he risks everything.

The events of that summer and the devastating effects of love denied will shape his life forever.

Michael Crawford’s hugely successful career spans four decades, and includes his unforgettable performance in the hit show Barnum at the London Palladium, the role of Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White and the eponymous role in The Wizard of Oz, also at the London Palladium. He is a multi Olivier and Tony award-winning star whose acclaim encompasses theatre, television and film and he was appointed an OBE in 1988.

The Go-Between’s composer/lyricist Richard Taylor most recently composed Flowers For Mrs Harris, which is to receive its world premiere at Sheffield Crucible Theatre.

The Go-Between is directed by Roger Haines (The Girls by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth) having been adapted by David Wood (the Olivier Award-winning Goodnight Mister Tom), who is also the co-lyricist.

Further casting will be announced in due course.

The Go-Between is produced by Greene Light Stage (formerly Old Vic Productions) and Bill Kenwright. This project was originally developed by Perfect Pitch Musicals Ltd. and presented at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Derby Live and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Tickets: £19.50 – £75. Reduced price previews from May 27. to book, call 0330 333 4809 or visit thegobetweenmusical.com/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm; Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:30pm.

The West End transfer of Jessica Swale’s new play Nell Gwynn, starring Gemma Arterton, runs at the Apollo Theatre until April 30, 2016.

The Bodyguard returns to the W/E with Beverley Knight as Rachel Marron

Beverley Knight

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE international hit musical The Bodyguard is returning to the West End – to the Dominion Theatre where it will play for a strictly limited six month season from July 15, 2016 to January 7, 2017. Public booking opens on February 12.

The role of Oscar-nominated superstar Rachel Marron will once again be played by Beverley Knight.

Joining her will be Rachel John (as Nicki Marron), Carole Stennett (alternate Rachel Marron), Mark Holden (Bill Devaney), Alex Andreas (Tony), Dominic Taylor (Sy Spector), Matthew Stathers (Stalker) and Glen Fox (Ray Court).

Ensemble members include Faye Best, Pablo Ceresuela Torres, Carlos Ugarriza Crespo, Lisa Darnell, Charles Hagerty, Emma Joy Hopkins, Ibinabo Jack, Christopher Jeffers, Verity Jones, Phoebe Liberty, Raul Naranjo Garcia, Mary Lynn Tiep, Michael Wade-Peters, Matthew Wesley, Emmy Willow and Mark Willshire.

Final casting, including the role of Frank Farmer and the young boys who will alternate the role of Fletcher, will be announced shortly.

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

A romantic thriller, The Bodyguard features numerous classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the greatest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.

Queen of British Soul Beverley Knight is a singer, songwriter and record producer who has been one of the UK’s most consistent artists since the release of her debut album in 1995. She has sold over a million albums in the UK, scoring several top 10’s and four gold certified albums as well as the platinum selling Voice: The Best of Beverley Knight. To date, she has won three MOBO Awards, an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Urban Music Awards, been three times nominated for Best Female at the Brit Awards, as well as for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and was also awarded an MBE for her services to music and charity in 2007.

Knight has presented four series of Radio 2 show Beverley’s Gospel Nights and appeared in two series of hit BBC1 show Just The Two of Us as well as appearing on stage with the likes of Prince, Stevie Wonder and Take That. In 2012, she wowed a viewing audience of one billion with a rendition of the song I Am What I Am at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Beverley Knight originally played the leading role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre to great acclaim in 2013. She followed this by playing the role of Felicia in Memphis The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical, and recently completed a hugely successful run at the London Palladium playing Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

Knight will be releasing her eighth studio album this Spring, her first in almost five years, as well as embarking on a solo tour across the UK in May and June.

Thea Sharrock’s production of The Bodyguard received its world premiere at the Adelphi Theatre in November 2012, opening to critical acclaim with Heather Headley as Rachel Marron. Due to public demand the show’s run was extended and in 2013, Beverley Knight joined the cast and took over the lead role.

The show continued to play to packed houses and released a further 300,000 tickets for sale. In June 2014, Alexandra Burke followed Knight as Rachel Marron, the role she continues to play in the show’s UK and Ireland sell-out tour which completes its highly successful run in June this year.

Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Bros. film, Thea Sharrock’s production of The Bodyguard has a book by Alex Dinelaris. Designs are by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Richard Brooker, video designs by Duncan McLean, choreography by Karen Bruce, orchestrations by Chris Egan and musical supervision by Richard Beadle.

The Bodyguard is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

For more information or to book tickets, visit thebodyguardmusical.com/london/.

The world stage premiere of The War of The Worlds runs at the Dominion Theatre from Monday, February 8 to Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Father - full casting announced

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FULL casting has been announced for the West End return of The Father, which runs at the Duke of York’s Theatre from February 24 to March 26, 2016, prior to a national tour.

Joining previously announced Kenneth Cranham are Amanda Drew (Three Days in the Country, Enron, Broadchurch) as Anne, Rebecca Charles (Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Brian Doherty (Call the Midwife), Daniel Flynn (Stephen Ward) and Jade Williams (Young Chekhov Trilogy).

Previously Posted: James Macdonald’s acclaimed production of The Father is returning to the West End – this time to the Duke of York’s Theatre where it runs from February 24 to March 26, 2016, prior to a national tour.

Kenneth Cranham will reprise his role as The Father, with further casting to be announced.

Previously Posted: Following its acclaimed run at the Tricycle Theatre, the Theatre Royal Bath’s production of Florian Zeller’s award-winning black comedy, The Father, is transferring to the West End – to Wyndham’s Theatre where it runs from September 30 to November 21, 2015.

Kenneth Cranham, Claire Skinner and Rebecca Charles will be reprising their roles, with further casting to be announced.

Previously Posted: The Theatre Royal Bath’s production of Florian Zeller’s award-winning black comedy, The Father, is transferring to the Tricycle Theatre, where it runs from Thursday, May 7 to Saturday, June 13, 2015.

Translated by Christopher Hampton, The Father is directed by James Macdonald and performed by Kenneth Cranham, Claire Skinner, Jade Williams, Rebecca Charles and Colin Tierney.

Now 80 years old, Andre was once a tap dancer. He lives with his daughter Anne and her husband Antoine. Or was he an engineer whose daughter Anne lives in London with her new lover, Pierre? The thing is, he is still wearing his pyjamas, and he can’t find his watch. He is starting to wonder if he’s losing control.

Nominated for a Tony Award for Stephen Daldry’s An Inspector Calls on Broadway, Kenneth Cranham’s numerous stage credits also include The Cherry Orchard (National Theatre), The Homecoming (Almeida Theatre) and West End productions of Entertaining Mr Sloane, Loot, The Birthday Party and Gaslight. His screen credits range from the title role in Shine on Harvey Moon to Maleficent, Hot Fuzz, Oliver! and Hellbound: Hellraiser II.

Claire Skinner’s recent stage credits include Blurred Lines (NT Shed), Deathtrap (West End) and Mrs Affleck (National Theatre). She is well known on television for her role as Sue Brockman in the BBC television series Outnumbered.

Christopher Hampton has translated plays by Ibsen, Molière, Chekhov and Yasmina Reza (including Art and Life x 3). He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the adaptation of his own play, Dangerous Liaisons, and was nominated again in 2007 for adapting Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement. His television work includes adaptations of The History Man and Hotel du Lac.

James Macdonald has worked extensively Off Broadway where he was recently the winner of the 2014 Obie Award for Best Director for Love and Information. He was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1992 to 2007 and his numerous credits range from Cock, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You and the European and US tours of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis to Exiles at the National Theatre and Glengarry Glen Ross in the West End.

Funny Girl extends West End run until October

THE West End transfer of Funny Girl has extended its run at the Savoy Theatre for the second time and will now run until October 8, 2016. Tickets for the extra dates go on sale on February 8 at 10am.

The show has broken records at the Savoy Theatre with the biggest advance sales in the venue’s history.

Previously Posted: The Menier Chocolate Factory’s sold-out revival of Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith as Fanny Brice, is transferring to the West End – to the Savoy Theatre where it runs for a limited 12 week season – from April 9 to July 2, 2016.

The production, which also stars Darius Campbell as Nick Arnstein, runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory from November 20, 2015 to March 5, 2016.

David Babani, Artistic Director of the Menier Chocolate Factory, said:

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for Funny Girl – the show broke Menier box office records when it sold out its entire run in just 90 minutes. We felt it was very important to respond to demand so we’re delighted to be joining forces with Sonia Friedman and Scott Landis to give Funny Girl a future life. We want to share it with as wide an audience as possible and to make Michael Mayer’s production as accessible to all, we’re offering £15 day seats – available for every performance at the Savoy Theatre.”

And Producer Sonia Friedman said: “2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original London production of Funny Girl. It’s enormously exciting to be bringing this legendary musical back to the West End for the first time since 1966, in a brand new production starring the incredible Sheridan Smith.”

Funny Girl tells the story of Fanny Brice, who rose from the Lower East Side of New York to become one of Broadway’s biggest stars under producer Florenz Ziegfield. While she was cheered onstage as a great comedienne, offstage she faced a doomed relationship with the man she loved, Nick Arnstein.

Read more about Funny Girl.

Gypsy, starring Imelda Staunton as the indomitable Rose, continues at the Savoy Theatre until November 28. It will be followed – from December 10, 2015 to March 12, 2016 – by Chichester Festival Theatre’s highly acclaimed, sell-out production of Guys and Dolls.

Something Something Lazarus - cast includes Valerie Cutko

Valerie Cutko

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for Something Something Lazarus, which runs at the King’s Head Theatre from March 8 to April 2, 2016.

As well as West End, National Theatre and Broadway star Valerie Cutko, the line up includes Daisy Amphlett, Ralph Bogard and Daniel Cech-Lucas.

Valerie Cutko, whose career spans performance, writing and cabaret, returns to the King’s Head to take on the role of Vee.

Her numerous theatre roles include Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, Madame Egorova in Beautiful and Damned, Marlene Dietrich in Piaf and The Queen of Transylvania in My Fair Lady (National Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall), Madame Giry in The Phantom of the Opera (UK Tour), Mrs Mullin in Carousel (Arcola Theatre), Ninotchka in Silk Stockings (a Sadler’s Wells’ concert staging), and Rafaella in Grand Hotel (Southwark Playhouse).

Daisy Amphlett takes on the dual roles of Della and the production’s Musical Director, as she did in the show’s development. After graduating from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, she went on to sing in the Help for Heroes concert at the Dominon Theatre, shortly followed by the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. She plays a number of instruments and has been working with the creative team on both the arrangements and musical direction for the show.

Ralph Bogard, who will be performing as Daniel, helped develop the role in workshop and readings and has been very close to the project. As well as his work in cabaret and production, he is best known for his roles as Peter Quince and Egeus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeares Globe Theatre), Robin in Ushers: The Front of House Musical (Charing Cross Theatre), Jack De’Ath in Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens (Leicester Sqare Theatre), and Christopher Lyon in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Arts Theatre).

Daniel Cech-Lucas builds on his work in the development of the show as Jay. His other work has included roles with the Touring Consortium theatre company on To Sir with Love and Regeneration, he played the roles of John in the feature film Vandalis and the long suffering best friend Tony in the web series Darren has a Breakdown, and he has been involved in various workshop performances including The Woman in White (Really Useful Group).

Something Something Lazarus is a new British musical and dark comedy about resurrections, second chances and the healing power of performance. Read more.

National Theatre to end Sunday performances

Story by Jack Foley

THE National Theatre is to stop putting on Sunday performances due to the “tight financial situation” facing the arts.

The announcement came as the prestigious London venue unveiled its new programme, which includes plays starring Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Garfield and Tamsin Greig.

Rufus Norris, the current boss of the National Theatre, said the decision had been made because Sunday performances were “always the last to sell”, adding that the theatre had “looked very carefully at the evidence over the last few years”.

He was backed by the NT’s executive director Lisa Burger, who added: “The fact is that there aren’t as many audiences coming to Sunday performances. Given the tight financial situation that we are in we decided that was one of the things we had to give up.”

Sunday performances at the Olivier and Lyttelton theatres began in 2008 and took place about 35 weeks a year.

The last Sunday show will be Damon Albarn’s musical Wonder.land in April 2016.

However, the NT building on the South Bank will still remain open to the public on Sundays over the summer.

We’re Stuck! - Shoreditch Town Hall

We're Stuck

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ONE Tenth Human and China Plate are presenting We’re Stuck!, a brand new interactive theatre show for 8-11 year olds, at Shoreditch Town Hall – from March 25 to April 1, 2016.

We’re Stuck! takes children on a fun adventure with scientists and robots which could change their whole attitude to maths. Inspired by the extraordinary abilities and limitations of our brains, award-winning theatre-maker Sarah Punshon uses the latest educational neuroscience to tackle how utterly rubbish our brains can be.

If you’ve ever got terribly stuck on a problem, made a stupid mistake and felt like a fool, then this show is for you.

Young adventurers will go on a special tour deep into the heart of Volcano Industries where they meet cutting edge scientists struggling with some unusual and extremely tricky problems in their top-secret research laboratory.

In a promenade performance, the ridiculous heroes and the brave young audience go on a voyage of discovery, pitching themselves against ludicrously difficult tasks, getting horribly stuck, and risking total failure. But, or so the press release informs us, it will be fun.

The show was developed through test workshops over the last year with the help of Maths on Toast, a charity that was founded to tackle the lack of opportunities for families to have fun doing maths in their local communities.

Five senior neuroscientists and psychologists from the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, University of London; the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford; and the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh helped in developing the show.

The show is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England and the project was commissioned by Shoreditch Town Hall and Z-arts in Manchester.

Sarah Punshon said: “I was inspired to make the show after helping my nephew with his maths homework. It was scary to see how much he minded getting a wrong answer, how tempted he was to give up if it got hard. It reminded me of myself at that age! But talking to the scientists has been extraordinary. I’ve discovered how wrong we are about how we learn maths – and been astonished by the breakthroughs scientists are making in understanding exactly how our brains work.

“I’m excited to work with such a brilliant team. Because it’s such an interactive show, I’ve been collaborating very closely with Sophie Sampson, our games designer, and Joanna Scotcher, our designer. We’ve been inventing strange brain-computer hybrid robots, and ways for kids to learn how to control them. My sister’s terrified of helping her kids with maths: I’m hoping someone like her will bring their kids along, and maybe the show will help change the way she looks at maths homework in future.”

Written and directed by Sarah Punshon and designed by Joanna Scotcher, We’re Stuck! has lighting design by Joshua Pharo, games design by Sophie Sampson and sound design by Elena Peña.

The cast comprises Daniel Bye, Seiriol Davies, Clare Dunn, and Avita Jay.

Tickets: £11 – £8 – available online at shoreditchtownhall.com/.

Times: March 25 and 26 at 10.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm; March 29 and 30 at 11am; March 31 and April 1 at 11.30am and 2.30pm.

Following the Shoreditch Town Hall dates, We’re Stuck! will tour to Burnley Arts Centre (April 5 and 6), The Boo, Waterfoot (April 8 and 9) and Z-arts, Manchester (April 12 – 16).

Sedos brings I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change to Bridewell Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SEDOS is presenting the popular musical cabaret I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at Bridewell Theatre from March 8 to March 12, 2016.

With a book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opened off Broadway in 1996. It played for over 5,000 performances, becoming the longest running revue in Off-Broadway history.

By turns poignant and funny, the show celebrates and reflects on the beauty and comedy of love in all its guises.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has played in more than 250 cities worldwide, including London, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg — and the Off-Broadway production has entered many couple’s hearts as more than 50 marriage proposals happened there during the run.

Director Emma J Leaver has increased the cast size from the original four to 12, split equally between men and women. Rehearsals are well underway, with Emma working alongside musical director Michael Cannon.

She said: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is somewhere between a cabaret, a sketch show and a song cycle that explores the development of romantic relationships — from being single, dating, marriage, and love later in life.

“When I saw the show with a larger cast over a decade ago it was joyous and energetic with relatable, honest lyrics; evident by the fact that it is the second longest running Off-Broadway production of all time.”

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change will be performed acoustically (without microphones) with a small band on stage complementing the cast.

As Emma explained: “There is a beautiful piano sitting forlornly in the back corner of the Bridewell Theatre doing a very good job as a props table that I think needs more stage time. And thus the idea of an acoustic show was born; creating an interesting performance dynamic and something new conceptually for the company.”

The cast are Fiona Allan, Laura Bird, Joe Chittenden-Veal, Kate Gledhill, Adrian Hau, Matt Hudson, Luke James Leahy, Claire Linney, Penny Rodie, Dan Saunders, Brice Sedgwick and Gemma Louise Zirfas.

Image: Some of the cast of Sedos’ production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change in rehearsal. Photo by Michael Smith.

NB: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change contains adult themes and language.

Tickets: £13.50 – £22. To book, visit sedos.co.uk/.

Gala night: Friday, March 11 – ticket includes a free glass of fizz, a programme and a late bar.

Charity night: Wednesday, March 9 – 50% of proceeds donated to the Sedos Charity of the Year 2016.

Times: 7.30pm, with Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Wicked - Mark Curry to play The Wizard

Mark Curry

Casting news

ON March 25, 2016, actor and presenter Mark Curry will take over the role of The Wizard in the hit musical Wicked, which is currently booking at the Apollo Victoria Theatre until April 29, 2017.

Tom McGowan will play his final performance as The Wizard on March 12, while from March 14 to March 24, 2016, the role will be played by Sean Kearns.

Mark Curry has enjoyed a long and successful career as both an actor and popular television and radio presenter. He is still best remembered by many for Blue Peter, which he co-hosted alongside Caron Keating and Yvette Fielding from 1986 to 1990.

His many recent theatre roles include: Dr. Armstrong and subsequently Rogers in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (UK Tour); Richard Willey MP in Ray Cooney’s Out of Order (The Mill at Sonning); Andre Cassell in Victor/Victoria and Larry in Company (Southwark Playhouse); The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour) and The Compere’ in Victoria Wood’s Talent (Menier Chocolate Factory).

Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wicked currently stars: Emma Hatton (as Elphaba), Savannah Stevenson (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Liza Sadovy (Madame Morrible), Tom McGowan (The Wizard), Sean Kearns (Doctor Dillamond), Daniel Hope (Boq), Katie Rowley Jones (Nessarose), Natalie Andreou (Standby for Elphaba) and Carina Gillespie (Standby for Glinda).

Tom McGowan is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.

There will be an Autism-Friendly performance of Wicked on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 1:30pm.