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The Commitments - casting announced

Casting news

CASTING has been announced for The Commitments, which receives its world premiere ar the Palace Theatre on October 8, 2013 following preview performances from September 21.

As in the plot itself The Commitments will introduce an array of fresh, young and exciting talent, alongside established musical theatre performers. The producers felt it was important to recruit and unleash a cast that is as hungry and in some cases raw as the characters they are playing.

Not only are some of the cast making their West End debuts but others who have come through the walk-up audition process are making their professional acting debuts.

The lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte, the band’s manager, will be played by West End debutant Denis Grindel, who is still finishing his stage school dissertation. Having completed a law degree, Grindel was about to sign his contract when he took a late audition for drama school, and won a place. Just one year on, he’s bringing the affable Jimmy to life on the West End stage.

The arrogant but gifted lead singer of The Commitments is Deco, who will be played by popular stage actor Killian Donnelly, whose credits include The Phantom of the Opera and both film and stage productions of Les Miserables. Donnelly has waited his whole life to play this role, having constantly been told by his mum that he was too young to watch or read The Commitments, when growing up in Dublin.

The Commitmentettes, Dublin’s answer to The Supremes, are to be played by three young Dublin girls, all making their West End debuts – Sarah O’Connor, Stephanie McKeon and Jessica Cervi.

Playing the senior musician in the group, the spiritually inspired trumpet player extraordinaire, Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan, will be the talented and well versed Ben Fox. Joey is the band’s original soul man and has quite a way with the ladies. They don’t call him ‘The Lips’ for nothing. Fox’ credits include Backbeat and The Midnight Hour.

Playing Jimmy Rabbitte’s father will be established actor Sean Kearns who has starred in Alan Parker’s film Angela’s Ashes and the BBC’s Ballykissangel.

The Commitments has been adapted for the stage by Booker Prize-winning Roddy Doyle, from his original novel. It will be directed by the award-winning Jamie Lloyd, who recently directed the critically acclaimed Macbeth, and will be packed with classic soul songs including Think by Aretha Franklin, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones, Papa Was A Rolling Stone by The Temptations, Night Train by James Brown, In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett and Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding.

Roddy Doyle says: “I’ve been sitting in rehearsals, watching these terrific young people becoming The Commitments. I’m hearing them sing; I’m watching them play their instruments – and it all makes me very happy and excited. What amuses me most is the fact that only one of them was born when I wrote the novel.”

The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced. The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesiser band – the opening scene has them playing but ignored in a shop window – who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.