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Kerry Ellis’ Wicked Return & Made In Dagenham Completes Cast Plus More #WestEndUpdate

By Andrew Tomlins

Today marks the first day of rehearsals for new musical Made In Dagenham. Starring Gemma Arterton as Rita O’Grady, the musical opens at the Adelphi Theatre on Wednesday 5th November (previews from 9th October).

Kerry Ellis’ Wicked Return & Made In Dagenham Completes Cast Plus More #WestEndUpdate

Last week it was revealed that Isla Blair and David Cardy will complete the cast as Connie and Monty. Blair was most recently seen in The Lyons (Menier Chocolate Factory) and has previously starred in countless shows such as Collaboration (Chichester/Duchess), The History Boys (Wyndham’s) and What the Butler Saw (National). Cardy has starred in Ghost Stories (Duke of York's) as well as Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Directed by the Almeida Theatre’s Artistic Director Rupert Goold, Made in Dagenham has a book by Richard Bean, music by BAFTA and Grammy award winning composer David Arnold and lyrics from Olivier Award winner Richard Thomas. It is based on the hit British film.

Crowds are set to go wild tonight (4th August) at the Apollo Victoria Theatre as Kerry Ellis – the original British Elphaba and the first and only British actress to play Elphaba on Broadway – reprises her celebrated performance in Wicked and defies gravity once again for a limited twelve week season.

Ellis famously understudied Martine McCutcheon in My Fair Lady (National/Drury Lane) where she was spotted by Brian May who invited her to star in We Will Rock You (Dominion). As well as working extensively with the Queen guitarist over the years, releasing albums and selling out concerts, Ellis has played Ellen in Miss Saigon (Tour), Fantine in Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre), Nancy in Oliver (Drury Lane), Mimi in Rent (Tour), Beth in The War of the Worlds (Tour) and Svetlana Sergievsky in Chess in Concert (Royal Albert Hall).

Ellis stars as Elphaba in Wicked opposite Savannah Stevenson as Glinda until Saturday 25th October 2014. Nikki Davis-Jones, who is currently playing the role in Wicked’s UK Tour, takes over from Ellis from Monday 27th October 2014.

The West End production of Disney’s The Lion King recently welcomed its 12 millionth visitor at the Lyceum Theatre. The production will celebrate its 15th anniversary in October with tickets currently on sale until Sunday 29th March 2015. Julie Taymor’s stage adaptation of Disney’s film premiered on Broadway in 1997 and has now been seen by over 70 million people across six continents.

Producers of Bakersfield Mist have confirmed the production will now end its run at the Duchess Theatre this Saturday (9th August), meaning you only have a few chances left to catch Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in action. I enjoyed the one act play, about what makes art and people truly authentic, so much that I booked to see it a second time! Turner is sensational.

If you’re looking for something to do with the family over the summer holidays, two family shows are opening at the Vaudeville Theatre this week. Based on the eponymous book by award-winning children's author Michael Morpurgo, I Believe In Unicorns opens on Friday (8th August) and runs until Saturday 31st August 2014. The show had a successful run at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival which was followed by a National Tour.

Adapted from Jacqueline Wilson's popular novel, Hetty Feather transfers to the Vaudeville Theatre for 40 performances on Tuesday (5th August), running until Saturday 6th September.  The West End transfer follows the production's critically acclaimed and hugely popular run at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, and a smash-hit international tour.

The show’s star, Phoebe Thomas, recently told London Theatre Direct that she thinks the production has huge wide appeal. She said: “Jacqueline Wilson always deals with issues that are bigger than issues that just appeal to 10 year old girls. I think whatever age you are everyone can associate with that parent/child relationship. We are finding that there are many adults who bring their children to see the show and they say afterwards that they weren’t expecting to enjoy the show so much themselves and that they even shed a tear at the end!”

In other news it has been announced that Forbidden Broadway will transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Vaudeville Theatre from Tuesday 9th September for a limited eleven week run ending on Saturday 22nd November 2014. YouTube sensation Christina Bianco joins a stellar company including Damian Humbley, Anna-Jane Casey and Ben Lewis. 

Dessa Rose opened last week to strong reviews at Trafalgar Studios 2. Following two young women on their journey to acceptance, Dessa Rose stars the formidable Cynthia Erivo who could easily win an Olivier Award for singing the phone book.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye has been busy teasing more theatre gossip. He claims former X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger is in early discussions to potentially star as Grizabella in Cats at the London Palladium and that Beautiful: The Carole King Musical could begin previews at the Aldwych Theatre on 10th February 2015. Finally he has revealed that Haydn Gwynne will star opposite the previously announced Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse Theatre from December.

By Andrew Tomlins

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