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Carnival of the Animals - Anita Dobson stars

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THOM Southerland (Annie Get Your Gun, HMS Pinafore, The Mikado) will direct Anita Dobson in Carnival of the Animals, a new musical based on the musical suite of the same name by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

Presented by Brian Eastman and Christabel Albery, it premieres at Riverside Studios, where it runs from July 4 to July 14, 2013.

Infamous fashion designer, Madamoiselle Parfait (Anita Dobson) opens her new boutique in the backstreet Paris square where the Carnival of the Animals is performed. New animals arrive to revitalise the show but Mlle Parfait has other, more sinsiter, intentions for the animals. But eventually a new show is born and the famous melodies of Monsieur Saint-Saens are given a new treatment.

The cast also includes Allyson Ava-Brown, Bronte Barbe, Alastair Brookshaw, David Burt, Jacob Chapman, Cassandra Compton, Liam Doyle, Jonny Fines, Matthew Gent and Stephen Webb, playing the roles of the various animals.

Although Anita Dobson will always be remembered for her portrayal of EastEnders‘ Angie Watts, she’s no stranger to theatre having previously appeared in Calendar Girls, Hamlet, Hello Dolly! and Frozen, for which she received an Olivier Award nomination. Most recently, she has been seen as Bette Davis in Bette and Joan at the Arts Theatre and Mistress Quickly in the touring production of The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Carnival of the Animals has music by Gavin Greenaway (Hunger Games, Shrek, Chicken Run), lyrics by Roger Hyams (Billy Elliot), original book by Roger Hyams and revised book by Andrew Marshall.