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The Audience Updated, Mamma Mia! Announces New Cast + More #WestEndUpdate​

By Andrew Tomlins

London's glittering West End has seen three major theatrical openings. Firstly the Theatre Royal Bath’s production of Hay Fever celebrated its official opening at the Duke of York's Theatre last Monday (11th May 2015).

Lindsay Posner’s production of Noël Coward’s comedy of bad manners stars Felicity Kendal who gives a tremendous performance as Judith Bliss. Hay Fever, which first played the West End in 1925, also stars Simon Shepherd (Peak Practice/The Duck House), Michael Simkins (Yes, Prime Minister/Oh What a Lovely War) and Sara Stewart (Heartbreak House/Enron). It runs until 1st August 2015.

The Audience Updated, Mamma Mia! Announces New Cast + More #WestEndUpdate​

Monday also saw Beyond Bollywood at the London Palladium open its doors to press. Featuring an original score, Beyond Bollywood is described as a “theatrical experience never seen before outside a Bollywood movie”. It runs in the West End for just sixty performances.

The show’s writer, choreographer and director Rajeev Goswami recently told me that everyone working on Beyond Bollywood is looking forward to “rocking London”. Discussing what audiences can expect, he said, “You will have a tour of India where you will go to the most known places as well as some sections you didn’t know about. There will be lots of colours which India is very famous for, but also some more detailed information which you will get through my dances, costumes and scenes.”

This week’s final big opening is High Society which held its press night on Thursday (14th May 2015). Staged in-the-round at the Old Vic, the show is directed by Maria Friedman whose production of Merrily We Roll Along took the West End by storm in 2013.

Cole Porter’s classic feel good musical runs at the Old Vic until 22nd August 2015. The production stars Kate Fleetwood as Tracy Lord. The acclaimed actress received an Olivier Award nomination for her performance in London Road at the National Theatre and a Tony nomination for her playing Lady Macbeth in Chichester’s production of Macbeth which transferred to Broadway.

Following the General Election, Peter Morgan has updated his script for The Audience, a play about the weekly meeting between the Queen and her Prime Ministers. The updated scene features The Queen and David Cameron, played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Mark Dexter. The play is booking at the Apollo Theatre until 25th July 2015.

New cast members join the West End production of Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre this week. Broadway actor Chris Peluso (Beautiful) makes his West End debut as Chris alongside Siobhan Dillon (Ghost The Musical) as Ellen, Natalie Mendoza (Here Lies Love) as Gigi and Sangwoong Jo (Korean production of Wicked) as Thuy. Jon Jon Briones, Eva Noblezada and Hugh Maynard continue as The Engineer, Kim and John.

It has been announced that Steven Pinder will take over as Doctor Dillamond in the West End production of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from 10th August until 19th September 2015. Pinder is currently playing both Doctor Dillamond and The Wizard in Wicked's UK Tour. He is best known for playing Max Farnham in Brookside between 1990 and 2003.  

West End icon Mazz Murray – who played Killer Queen in We Will Rock You for seven years – is joining the West End production of Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre as Tanya from 8th June 2015. Also joining the cast are Jo Napthine as Rosie, Gabriella Williams as Sophie Sheridan and James Darch as Sky. Former Wicked star Dianne Pilkington continues as Donna Sheridan.

In other news Killian Donnelly has announced that he will leave Memphis The Musical on 4th July 2015 to begin rehearsals for Kinky Boots, there are rumours that Tony nominated Broadway musical Something Rotten could transfer to the West End and 2011 and X Factor finalist Amelia Lily will star in Green Day musical American Idiot at the Arts Theatre this summer.

Finally, Derek Jacobi has been cast as Mercutio in Kenneth Branagh’s production of Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre. Jacobi will reunite with his Cinderella co-stars, Lily James as Juliet and Richard Madden as Romeo. The production runs from 12th May 2016 until 13th August 2016.

Andrew Tomlins

By Andrew Tomlins