Meet Judy, Judy and Judy

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Helen Sheals, Belinda Wollaston and Lucy Penrose have been cast to play Judy Garland in three different stages of her life in Through the Mill, a new play featuring a hit list of Garland greatest standards, by Ray Rackham.

Through the Mill will get its world premiere in a three-week season at London Theatre Workshop from Tuesday 1st December – Saturday 19th December 2015.

Helen Sheals recently played Goneril in a UK tour of King Lear for Northern Broadsides. She previously starred as Mari Hoff in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for Hull Truck and on TV as a series regular in Downton Abbey. Belinda Wollaston was in the musicals The Spitfire Grill at the Union Theatre and Once We Lived Here at the King’s Head Theatre. In her native Australia she appeared in Mamma Mia!, Dr Zhivago and Titanic.

The rest of the cast of 12 actor-musicians who will also make up the on-stage Judy Garland band, include Harry Anton, Amanda Bailey, Carmella Brown, Don Cotter, Tom Elliot Reade, Chris McGuigan, Perry Meadowcroft and Joe Shefer.

Through the Mill chronicles the turbulent life of the legendary singer, her rise from teenager to MGM movie star, from ‘has-been’ to concert hall darling, and her short-lived career as a TV personality. On film, on stage or in people’s living rooms every Sunday evening, Garland was, and continues to be, one of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s golden age. As conflicted as she was celebrated, Through the Mill gives the audience an opportunity to go beyond the rainbow and witness the life of a woman destined for greatness, one who is as loved today as she was when she made her way along that yellow brick road.

Through the Mill is written by Ray Rackham, Artistic Director of London Theatre Workshop and librettist lyricist of last year’s smash Christmas musical, Apartment 40C, and is directed by Max Reynolds (Ushers: The Front of House Musical at the Arts Theatre).

Visit www.londontheatreworkshop.com to buy tickets.

Terry Jones to direct world premiere of Jeepers Creepers

Jeepers Creepers Marty Feldman and Terry Jones
Marty Feldman and Terry Jones

Monty Python legend Terry Jones is to direct the world premiere of Jeepers Creepers, a play about comedy star Marty Feldman and his ambitious wife, Lauretta.

Jeepers Creepers, written by Marty’s best-selling biographer Robert Ross, and starring David Boyle (BeingSellers, The Fool Who Dared to Dream) and Rebecca Vaughan (Austen’s Women, I, Elizabeth), will premiere in a four-week season in the Lounge at Leicester Square Theatre from Monday 18th January – Saturday 20th February 2016.

Story: Having written some of the nation’s favourite comedy in The Army Game and Round the Horne, Marty Feldman suddenly finds himself a star in his own right, with sketch show success for both the BBC and commercial TV. Then Hollywood comes a’knocking with the role of Igor in the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein. But while his wife Lauretta takes to the glamorous lifestyle with alacrity, can Marty come to terms with the burden of the fame he has always craved? Excess, depression, and the inevitable decline follow. Surely laughter, and the love of a strong woman, can conquer all, although the eternal conflict of the clown refuses to fade. Is he laughed with, or laughed at? Jeepers Creepers charts one of the most powerful and complex partnerships in comedy, through the unique gaze of one of the greatest: Marty Feldman.

Terry Jones has a personal connection to the play’s subject – he wrote sketches for and appeared in It’s Marty with Marty Feldman in the late 1960s. He said: ‘When I joined the writing team for The Frost Report, the first person to say “Hello” and make me feel welcome was Marty Feldman. He was one of those very kind and very funny people who helped all the Pythons along the way. It’s lovely to be able to say a belated ‘Thank you’ by bringing him back to eye-popping life – sort of! – on the London stage.’

Produced by Martin Witts for Leicester Square Theatre.

Visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.com to buy tickets.

New production pictures released for Cats starring Beverley Knight

Beverley Knight (Grizabella) in Cats, photo Alessandro Pinna

New production pictures have been released for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, which made its return to the London Palladium on 23rd October for a strictly limited 11-week season booking to 2nd January 2016, starring Beverley Knight as Grizabella.

Emma Lee Clark (Bombalurina)
Emma Lee Clark (Bombalurina)

The cast joining Beverley Knight (Grizabella) comprises Madalena Alberto (alternate Grizabella), Jack Butterworth (Rumpus/Alonzo), Danielle Cato (Cassandra), Javier Cid (Macavity/Admetus), Luke Cinque-White (Carbucketty), Emma Lee Clark (Bombalurina), Jon-Scott Clark (Bill Bailey), Gabrielle Cocca (Tantomile), Harry Francis (Mungojerrie), Tarryn Gee (Jemima), Evan James (Skimbleshanks), Matt Krzan (Munkustrap), Georgie Leatherland (Rumpelteazer), Adam Linstead (Old Deuteronomy), Paul F Monaghan (Gus/Growltiger/Bustopher Jones), Jane Quinn (Jennyanydots), Mark John Richardson (Quaxo/ Mistoffelees), Clare Rickard (Jellylorum), Jordan Shaw (Pouncival), Hannah Kenna Thomas (Victoria/ White Cat), James Titchener (Coricopat), Marcquelle Ward (Tugger)

Matt Krzan (Munkustrap)
Matt Krzan (Munkustrap)

and Anna Woodside (Demeter). They are joined by Megan Armstrong, Lindsay Atherton, Lucy Brushett, Oliver Ramsdale, Alex Pinder and Barry Haywood as swings.

Tickets for Cats cost from £20 with top price seats at £59.50 and children’s tickets at half price for Monday to Thursday performances.

Visit www.catsthemusical.com/london to buy tickets.

Images: Alessandro Pinna

Corrie star Gray O’Brien joins the cast of The Sound of Music

Gray O'Brien

Award-winning Scottish actor Gray O’Brien joins Bill Kenwright’s spectacular production of The Sound of Music as Captain von Trapp, in what will mark his musical theatre debut.

Gray, who played ruthless businessman Tony Gordon in Coronation Street, will join BBC One’s The Voice runner up Lucy O’Byrne, who will star as Maria von Trapp, as they open at The Broadway in Peterborough this December before touring the UK.

Although best known for his three-year performance in Coronation Street, for which he won Villain of the Year at the British Soap Awards and Best Actor at the Inside Soap Awards, Gray is no stranger to leading television roles. Previously, he has starred in Peak Practice in which he played the series regular character of Dr Tom Deneley for ITV and prior to that another series regular; Richard McCaig in Casualty for the BBC. Most recently, Gray was seen in the 12-part drama Titanic: Blood & Steel. His stage work includes starring opposite Peter Bowles in Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth at The Apollo Theatre.

Lucy O’Byrne, who will also be making her musical debut, became a household name earlier this year when she shot to success as the runner-up in the live shows of the TV talent show. With chart-topper Will.i.am as her mentor, Lucy made history as the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing the nation with her stunning vocal range. Now, having recently performed at the BBC Proms, she makes her debut as the young postulant at The Broadway, Peterborough.

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and of course, the title song, The Sound of Music.

Dates confirmed for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will receive its world premiere in London’s West End at the Palace Theatre in summer 2016.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Written by Jack Thorne and directed by Olivier and Tony award winner John Tiffany, the play brings together some of the most exciting talent working in the theatre today.

Plot: It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Featuring a cast of over 30, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is one play presented in two parts. Both parts are intended to be seen in order on the same day (matinee and evening), or on two consecutive evenings.

On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays there will be a matinee performance of Part One and an evening performance of Part Two. For the initial on sale period, one ticket will automatically secure the same seat for both Part One and Part Two on the same day.

For subsequent booking periods, tickets for Wednesday matinee and Wednesday evening performances can be bought together or separately. Details of when Saturday and Sunday performances of Parts One and Part Two can be bought separately will be announced at a later date. On Thursdays there will be an evening performance of Part One and on Fridays an evening performance of Part Two. On those days tickets to each part can be bought together or separately.

Previews begin 7th June 2016 (please see website for schedule), with the opening performances of Part One and Part Two on Saturday 30th July 2016.

In addition, four special preview performances are planned for the end of May 2016 – details of where and how to obtain these tickets will be announced at a later date.

J.K. Rowling said: ‘The story only exists because the right group of people came together with a brilliant idea about how to present Harry Potter on stage. I’m confident that when audiences see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child they will understand why we chose to tell this story in this way.’

Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender said: ‘We are very proud to have assembled some of the finest creative talent working in the theatre today to bring to the stage this epic story of love, courage, adventure and the power of the imagination from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. With reduced preview tickets starting at £10 per part, regular tickets starting at £15 per part and the weekly and daily lotteries we have set out to make the play accessible to the widest theatre-going audience.’

Casting will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the first four months of performances (7th June – 18th September 2016), including previews, will go on sale online only at 11am on 28th October 2015 on a first come first served basis to all who registered for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child priority booking on the official website, www.HarryPotterthePlay.com.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public, online only, on 30th October 2015 at 11am.

The show is suitable for ages 10 and up.

Visit www.HarryPotterthePlay.com to find out more and to buy tickets.