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    GOSSIP: SOUTH PACIFIC TO REPLACE WIZARD OF OZ?

    The current touring version of South Pacific featuring ex-Eastenders star Samantha Womack is rumoured to be heading back to the West End this autumn.  The classic musical scored stunning  reviews for its 2008 Broadway revival in leading to the 2011 production at the Barbican featuring some of the Broadway cast members including Tony-winning Paolo Szot. 

    The long-awaited Sam Mendes-directed stage adaptation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had been earmarked for the prestigious London venue to replace the struggling Wizard Of Oz later this year, yet it now seems that it won't be ready until late 2013.  The Daily Mail has reported that instead the Rogers and Hammerstein classic is now the most likely candidate to fill the void.  Womack is best known to tv audiences for her longrunning turn as Ronnie Mitchell in Eastenders, which she left earlier this year after the culmination of her harrowing and contentious baby-swap storyline.  As well as starring roles in Guys & Dolls and Grease, she also represented the UK in the 1991 Eurovison Song Contest under her maiden name Samantha Janus with the song A Message To Your Heart.

    Widely considered one of the best Broadway musicals South Pacific tells the tale of young nurse Nellie Forbush and French plantation owner Emile de Becque who is involved in a World War II military mission.  It features classic songs such as Some Enchanted Evening, There Is Nothing Like A Dame, Happy Talk, Bali Ha'i and I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.  The original  musical was staged in 1949 and drew from James A Milchener's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Tales of The South Pacific.  

    The 1958 film version starred Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor, John Kerr and Ray Walston.  The movie's soundtrack album has spent more weeks at the top of the UK album chart than any other album, with 115 weeks in total.   At one point it had a continual stretch of 70 weeks - including the whole of 1959.  The current UK touring version features Womack as Nellie, Welsh National Opera singer Jason Howard as Emile and Ables Sayre as Bloody Mary.  A new film version is currently being penned by Lynn Grossman with Ileen Maisel and Bob Balaban set to produce.

    Book Wizard of Oz tickets online now.

    [posted by James, 12/03/2012]



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