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Wildor Joins Husband Cooper for RFH On Your Toes
7th May 2003

Contact's Sarah Wildor will join her husband and former Royal Ballet co-star Adam Cooper in the London mounting of Leicester Haymarket's acclaimed revival of Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes (See News, 20 Feb 2003). The musical opens at the Royal Festival Hall on 7 August 2003 and continues until 6 September (previews from 4 August).

Wildor's many roles at the Royal Ballet included Juliet, Giselle and Manon. She left the company in September 2001. Her other credits include creating the role of Cinderella in Matthew Bourne's production for Adventures in Motion Pictures, for whom Cooper found international acclaim as the lead swan in AMP’s renowned all-male Swan Lake. This year, Wildor was nominated for a Best Actress in a Musical Olivier her role in Susan Stroman's Contact, which closes this weekend at the West End's Queen's Theatre.

Premiered on Broadway in 1936, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's On Your Toes is a musical comedy set in the ballet world, where a jealous male dancer hires a gangster to indispose the leading man so that he can take his place for the opening night performance. It was last professionally produced in the London in 1984 at the West End's Palace Theatre, starring Natalie Makarova and Tim Flavin. The show features songs such as "There's a Small Hotel" as well as the famous ballet sequence "Slaughter on 10th Avenue".

Wildor plays Vera Baronova to Cooper's Junior Dolan with Irek Mukhamedov (another former principal dancer, with both the Royal Ballet and the Russian Bolshoi Ballet) and Follies' Kathryn Evans reprising their Leicester roles as Konstantine Morrisone and Peggy Porterfield, respectively (though Mukhamedov will not be performing on 11, 12 and 13 August).

Directed by Leicester Haymarket artistic director Paul Kerryson, choreographed by Cooper and designed by Paul Farnsworth, this revival of On Your Toes was first seen in May 2002 in Leicester. It's presented in London by impresario Raymond Gubbay, who last year mounted Kerryson's production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Festival Hall. The new production is Gubbay's sixth collaboration at the South Bank concert venue. It has musical arrangements and direction by Julian Kelly.

Article from What's on Stage


Elton John Sinks Teeth into Vampire Lestat
7th May 2003

Elton John and his long-time pop collaborator Bernie Taupin are working on a new blood-sucking Broadway musical. Based on Anne Rice's popular series of vampire novels, the new show, expected to premiere in 2005, has been tentatively titled The Vampire Lestat. It follows big-budget screen adaptations of Rice's novels Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned and will be the first project financed through film company Warner Bros' new theatrical division. Though best known for his pop success, Elton John has previously provided music for Disney film-to-stage hits The Lion King and Aida and is chairman of the Old Vic Theatre Trust. The Vampire Lestat is just one in a recent rash of musicals about the undead. Most famously, Michael Crawford's much-hyped "comeback" vehicle - The Dance of the Vampires, based on Roman Polanski's 1967 schlock horror film - closed on Broadway in January 2003 after vicious reviews, having notched up just 56 performances and estimated losses of $12 million. Lyricist Don Black has also been working on a new Broadway musical based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, featuring music by Frank Wildhorn and a book by playwright Christopher Hampton.

Article from What's on Stage


Musical Minnie Driver Pines for Chicago
6th May 2003

British screen actress Minnie Driver aims to follow in the footsteps of Renee Zellwegger and Catherine Zeta Jones by kicking up her heels in Chicago. Or perhaps it's more apt to say she'd like to do a Denise, as the actress would like to make her musical debut on stage rather than on screen. Staff at Billy Chicago Ltd, producers of the long-running West End production at the Adelphi Theatre, must surely be taking note. Driver is quoted in The Sunday Telegraph saying that the stage version of Kander and Ebb's musical is "ultimately what I want to do .... I love singing and dancing, but haven't really had the chance for a while. The buzz you get from performing on stage is just incredible." On the other hand, Driver is already finding the demands of her current theatrical turn - opposite Friends' Matthew Perry in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago, which opens at the Comedy Theatre on 14 May 2003 - "incredibly tiring". If that's the case with a 90-minute, one-act play, just how imagine how pooped she'd be doing eight shows a week in a musical.

Article from What's on Stage


Maureen's Turn: Peters' Standby, Maureen Moore, to Play May 6 Gypsy Performance
6th May 2003

Two-time Tony Award-winner Bernadette Peters, who is currently starring as Rose in the revival of Gypsy at the Shubert Theatre, is ailing and will not play the May 6 performance.According to a statement from the production, Peters "is battling a respiratory infection that has reoccurred. She is being treated with antibiotics and has been told by her doctors that she needs rest." Peters' standby, Maureen Moore, will perform the role of Rose at the May 6 performance, as she did at the May 5 show.

Maureen Moore has appeared on Broadway in Cabaret, Sunset Boulevard, Falsettos, Les Misérables, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Amadeus, Big River, I Love My Wife, Moonie Shapiro Songbook and as June in the 1974 production of Gypsy. She also was Peters' standby in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song & Dance, the show that garnered Peters her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Article from Playbill


Holden Fulfils Serious Ambition as Millie
5th May 2003

Actress Amanda Holden - best known for cheating on her husband Les Dennis with Men Behaving Badly's Neil Morrissey, as well as for her TV roles including Cutting It - has confirmed that she'll be making her West End musical debut later this year in the transfer of Broadway hit Thoroughly Modern Millie. Speaking this weekend to chat show host Michael Parkinson, Holden said she'd always wanted to be famous - though she was now "trying to be a serious actress" - and that "one of my biggest ambitions was to be in the West End". She acknowledged that, thanks to her private life, most members of the public probably already had a preconceived image of her - and it rhymes with flapper. Which is handy as she'll be playing a flapper in Millie. Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing, the nostalgic musical comedy is set in 1920s New York where recent arrival-from-Kansas Millie Dillmount is determined to bob her hair, dance to jazz, get a job and marry her boss - all in the modern fashion. Rehearsals start in September for the London production, which is expected to open at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Opened last March at Broadway's Marquis Theatre, Thoroughly Modern Millie was the big winner at the 2002 Tony Awards, taking home six trophies including Best Musical.

Article from What's on Stage


"Grease" Lightning Strikes Again
5th May 2003

Twenty-five years after its original release and it seems Grease is still the word, no matter what the decade.

The sing-along flick is dropping its hot rods, hair gel and black leather jackets for a '70s-era makeover courtesy of Paramount Pictures, which has given the green light to developing Grease 3, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Unlike the original's ignominious 1982 sequel, which featured a new cast led by Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer (in one of her earliest roles), the third installment will focus on the children of the original greasers played to perfection by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

However, the time, place and motion for the new installment will reportedly be set in those summer-lovin' nights of the late 1970's disco era, when bell bottoms and polyester ruled.

While Paramount had no comment Monday on the sequel, the Reporter says the studio has already begun commissioning a screenplay and is eyeing numerous writers for the project.

Paramount head Sherry Lansing originally sparked to a Next Generation-style sequel after Didi Conn--the actress who played Frenchie in both Grease and its follow-up--pitched her the idea at a DVD release party the studio threw for Grease last fall (where Travolta and Newton-John thrilled guests with an encore rendition of "You're the One That I Want.")

Conn was apparently very persuasive. She has since been tapped as executive producer.

To avoid the pitfalls that befell the unknown cast of Grease 2, Paramount reportedly hopes to negotiate the return of Travolta, Newton-John and the rest of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies, including Stockard Channing who burned up the screen with relish as Betty Rizzo singing "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee."

Those talks will presumably heat up once the script has been completed.

One thing's for sure, Grease hasn't slid out of the public consciousness. The original--1978's biggest moneymaker having grossed $181 million domestically and almost $380 million worldwide--was rereleased by Paramount in 1998 to much fanfare. And the spirit was kept alive for much of the last decade with a long-running Broadway version, a revival of the original 1972 stage musical.

Meanwhile, despite the news of the original cast potentially reuniting, the hopelessly devoted fans of 'N Sync must feel a tad let down.

Three years ago, the über-boy band announced they were developing their own script for Grease 3 with Justin Timberlake's former gal-pal Britney Spears rumored to be a Pink Lady. However, unless Danny and Sandy have quintuplets, it appears unlikely the boys will be involved.

Article from Eonline


What the World Needs Now: The Look of Love Opens on Broadway
4th May 2003

The Look of Love fixes it gaze upon Broadway as the musical revue opens May 4 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The Roundabout Theatre Company production featuring the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David began performances April 4. Originally scheduled to run through June 15, the show extended its run through June 29.Scott Ellis stages the work with choreography of Ann Reinking — both of whom, along with David Thompson and David Loud, conceived the production. The cast features Liz Callaway, Kevin Ceballo, Jonathan Dokuchitz, Eugene Fleming, Capathia Jenkins, Janine LaManna, Shannon Lewis, Rachelle Rak, Desmond Richardson, pit singers Farah Alvin and Nikki Renée Daniels as well as swings Allyson Turner and Eric Jordan Young.

The design team includes Derek McLane (set), Martin Pakledinaz (costume), Howell Binkley (lighting) and Brian Ronan (sound). Music direction and arrangements are by David Loud. Don Sebesky handles orchestrations.

Among the array of tunes audience will hear include some late '60s, early '70s classic — such as "I Say a Little Prayer," "What's New, Pussycat," "What the World Needs Now," "Close to You," "Wishin' and Hopin'," "Walk on By," and the title song. The smooth songs of the duo were made famous by such artists as Tom Jones, The Fifth Dimension, B.J. Thomas, Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick.

Article from Playbill


Anything Goes Follows Fair Lady at Drury Lane?
2nd May 2003

The announced closure of My Fair Lady has prompted all sorts of reshuffle speculation. Most immediately, it looks likely that one Olivier Award-winning Trevor Nunn musical will follow another into the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. A spokeswoman for the National told Whatsonstage.com that negotiations were nearly complete to bring this year's smash Anything Goes, Nunn's swansong NT musical, to the theatre in late September for a limited run. That'll be welcome news for all who couldn't get tickets to the Cole Porter revival's sell-out season on the South Bank. The production - which stars Sally Ann Triplett and John Barrowman - was mooted for a transfer ever since receiving ecstatic reviews back in December, but plans looked dashed when no suitably large venue was available and Nunn refused to allow anyone to "shrink" the size of the production. Problem solved then.

Article from What's on Stage


Hairspray Leads 2003 Drama Desk Award Nominations
1st May 2003

The Drama Desk Award nominations for the 2002-03 season were announced 10 AM May 1 at the New York Friars Club. The Broadway musical Hairspray led the pack with 14 nods.Hairspray received nominations for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Harvey Fierstein), Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Marissa Jaret Winokur), Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Dick Latessa and Corey Reynolds), Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Kelly Butler), Outstanding Director of a Musical (Jack O'Brien), Outstanding Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Outstanding Music (Marc Shaiman), Outstanding Lyrics (Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman), Outstanding Book (Mark O'Donnell, Thomas Meehan), Outstanding Orchestrations (Harold Wheeler), Outstanding Set Design of a Musical (David Rockwell), Outstanding Costume Design (Williams Ivey Long).

Amour was the surprise recepient of nine noms. The short-lived Broadway musical will compete against Hairspray for Outstanding Musical.

Filling out the musical category are Avenue Q, A Man of No Importance, Movin' Out and Zanna, Don't!. All did well in the tallies.

Take Me Out won the most nominations for a play with seven. Other Outstanding Play noms included surprise notices for Buicks and Peter and Vandy.

Article from Playbill


The Boy From Oz Tix Now on Sale to AmEx Golders
1st May 2003

Tickets to the upcoming Peter Allen Broadway musical bio The Boy From Oz will go on sale to the general public May 18 through Telecharge. However, American Express Gold Card members get the chance to purchase their seats first, starting May 1.The musical is set to begin previews at the Imperial Theatre Sept. 16 for an Oct. 16 opening. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office beginning Aug. 4.

Hugh Jackman will star in the lead role. Jarrod Emick co-stars as Allen's partner, Greg Connell; Beth Fowler will play his mother, Marion Woolnough; Michael Mulheren takes on his father, Dick Woolnough, and manager-promoter Dee Anthony; Isabel Keating will portray Allen's mentor and mother-in-law, Judy Garland; and Mitchel Federan plays the young Peter. More casting will be announced shortly.

The Boy from Oz is "a musical true story" of the late entertainer who was a protege of Judy Garland — and briefly married to her daughter Liza Minnelli. The Australian production ran two years and starred Todd McKenney as Allen. Nick Enright penned the musical's original book, though since fall 2001, Martin Sherman (Bent) has been the project's librettist.

Philip Wm. McKinley will direct the Broadway musical with choreography by Joey McKneely. Patrick Vaccariello will serve as musical supervisor. Orchestrations will be by Michael Gibson. A design team will be announced shortly.

Songwriters represented in the score of existing pop songs include Adrienne Anderson, Burt Bacharach, Jeff Barry, Michael Callen, Christopher Cross, Tom Keane, Marsha Malamet, Dean Pitchford and Carol Bayer Sager. Sources say the show ends with Allen's signature song, "I Go to Rio."

For more information on The Boy From Oz at the Imperial, 249 West 45 Street, visit the show's website at www.theboyfromoz.com.

Article from Playbill


My Fair Lady Confirms Closure at Drury Lane, 30 Aug
1st May 2003

Trevor Nunn's multi award-winning National Theatre revival of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady will close at the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane this August. The musical first opened in March 2001 at the NT Lyttelton, where it ran for three months before transferring in July 2001 to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Despite recently extending booking to December, it will now finish on 30 August 2003 after a run of more than two years.

It has not yet been confirmed what will succeed My Fair Lady at the Drury Lane though many shows have been mooted for the popular 2,200-seat musicals house, including the stage version of Mary Poppins, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, who also produces My Fair Lady. The theatre is scheduled to be dark until the end of September 2003, with further programming announcements expected shortly.

Nunn's My Fair Lady has scooped multiple Oliviers for two years running. Amongst its three wins last year were Outstanding Musical Production and Best Actress in a Musical for original (often absent) star Martine McCutcheon, while this year it won Best Actress and Best Actor in a Musical for the second Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higggins, Joanna Riding and Alex Jennings.

From 10 March 2003, the production saw its third major cast change. It now stars Anthony Andrews and Laura Michelle Kelly in the leads with Russ Abbot (as Alfred P Doolittle), Stephen Moore (Colonel Pickering), Hannah Gordon (Mrs Higgins), Michael Xavier (Freddy Eynsford-Hill) and Patsy Rowlands will return to play Mrs Pearce. (Katie Knight-Adams plays the role of Eliza at certain performances.) The production is designed by Anthony Ward with choreography and musical staging by Matthew Bourne.

The 1956 musical, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. An opinionated linguistics professor, Henry Higgins, sets out to prove that he can turn anyone into a lady. He chooses as his specimen one cockney flower girl, Eliza, and introduces her to high society. The famous score includes "I Could Have Danced All Night", "Wouldn't It Be Loverly", "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face", "Why Can't the English" and "The Rain in Spain."

Article from What's on Stage


Busy Meehan to Collaborate on New Book for US Bombay Dreams
1st May 2003

The Producers’ Thomas Meehan will collaborate with Meera Syal on a new book for the Broadway-bound musical Bombay Dreams.A spokesperson for the production confirmed that Tony-winning book writer Meehan will work with novelist-writer-comedian Syal, who penned the book for the production of Bombay Dreams now playing London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. The musical — produced in London by Andrew Lloyd Webber — is a love story set against the backdrop of the Bombay film industry and features music by Hindi composer A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Sunset Boulevard's Don Black.

It’s a busy year for Meehan, who also collaborated with Mark O’Donnell on the book for one of the season’s biggest hits, Hairspray. Meehan is also again working with Mel Brooks on a musical version of his classic film “Young Frankenstein.”

Thomas Meehan won Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical for The Producers and Annie. His other book-writing credits include I Remember Mama, Ain’t Broadway Grand and Annie Warbucks. Also, an Emmy-winning writer, Meehan has co-written several screenplays, including two with Mel Brooks, “Spaceballs” and “To Be or Not To Be.”

Bombay Dreams is scheduled to open on Broadway in the spring of 2004. In a statement, Lloyd Webber recently said, "[Composer] A. R. Rahman is nothing short of a melodic genius. It has been thrilling to watch London theatregoers embrace Bombay Dreams with such fervor. Bringing this talent and this musical to Broadway brings my own dreams for this project full-circle."


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