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Beverley Knight Extends In Memphis, Penelope Wilton Dazzles In Taken At Midnight + More! #WestEndUpdate

By Andrew Tomlins

Producers of Memphis have announced that Beverley Knight has extended her run in the show until July 2015. Following her West End debut in The Bodyguard, Knight has been impressing West End audiences and critics with her killer vocals and newly found acting talents. Knight plays Felicia Farrell in Memphis, which is currently booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre until 31st October, alongside Killian Donnelly as Huey Calhoun.

Beverley Knight Extends In Memphis, Penelope Wilton Dazzles In Taken At Midnight + More! #WestEndUpdate

This week has been dominated by play openings. Earlier this week Taken At Midnight opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket to press following its world premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Everyone has been raving about Penelope Wilton’s sensationally moving performance. Directed by Jonathan Church, Mark Hayhurst's new play runs for a limited season until 14th March 2015.
 
James McAvoy is back in the West End starring in The Ruling Class which also opened this week. I attended the star studded opening night and was absolutely blown away by the craziness of the piece and the intensity of McAvoy’s performance. He shows off a completely different side to his talents in the role of a paranoid schizophrenic who finds himself at the centre of an epic power struggle. The Ruling Class runs at Trafalgar Studios through to 11th April 2015.
 
Completing this week’s openings is Di And Viv And Rose which has transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre following its run at the Hampstead Theatre. Described as a “funny and insightful comedy about female friendship”, the show stars Tamzin Outhwaite, Samantha Spiro and Jenna Russell. Also this week The Nether begins previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre.
 
On Saturday (31st January) we bid farewell to King Charles III which completes it critically acclaimed run at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Meanwhile international Wicked star Jennifer DiNoia plays her final performance as Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and Broadway actors Billy Harrigan Tighe and A.J. Holmes leave The Book of Mormon at the Prince Of Wales Theatre.
 
Excitement is building for the West End transfer of Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton. Earlier this week Jonathan Kent’s production, which ran in Chichester last year, picked up the Peter Hepple Award for Best Musical at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. It has also been confirmed that Lara Pulver will reprise her performance as Louise alongside the previously announced Imelda Staunton as Momma Rose. Peter Davison is joining the cast as Herbie with further casting yet to be revealed. Previews begin at the Savoy Theatre on 28th March.
 
Sadly, Made In Dagenham is closing in April. Starring Gemma Arterton, the musical opened in the West End last November. Producers have already stated that they are looking at the possibility of touring the show after it closes at the Adelphi Theatre on 11th April. According to the Daily Mail, The Illusionists will open at the Adelphi for a limited run before "something bigger" opens later this year.
 
In casting news, John Goodman and Tom Sturridge have signed up to star alongside Damian Lewis in the upcoming West End revival of American Buffalo.  Gary Watson is joining the cast of Jersey Boys as Nick Massi from 18th March whilst original cast member Simon Adkins is returning to the show to reprise his performance as Bob Crewe.
 
Elsewhere Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has extended booking at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane to June 2016. It has been confirmed that The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper is transferring to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in May and Jim Dale is bringing his show Just Jim Dale to the Vaudeville Theatre later this year for a limited run. Finally, Thriller Live has entered its seventh record breaking year in the West End and Bend It Like Beckham has already extended its West End run to October 2015.

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By Andrew Tomlins

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