The cast of The Commitments
The cast of The Commitments

Casting has been announced for the forthcoming West End premiere of The Commitments, a musical adapted from Roddy Doyle's prize-winning novel.

The lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte will be played by 22-year-old Denis Grindel, who is making his West End debut.

Grindel, from Dublin, studied law, but has reportedly "given it all up to follow his dream of performing in the West End". He beat off several thousand hopefuls who auditioned for Roddy Doyle's new show to land the lead role.

According to press material, "As in the plot itself The Commitments will introduce an array of fresh, young and exciting talent, alongside established musical theatre performers. The producers felt it was important to recruit and unleash a cast that is as hungry and in some cases raw as the characters they are playing.

"Not only are some of the cast making their West End debuts but others who have come through the walk-up audition process are making their professional acting debuts."

The Commitments tells the story of Jimmy Rabbitte, a young working class music fan, who shapes an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act, the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

The show follows the journey of two members of a frustrated synthesiser band – the opening scene has them playing but ignored in a shop window - who turn to Jimmy, the local music expert, for help.

Author Roddy Doyle said "it all makes me very happy and excited"
Author Roddy Doyle said "it all makes me very happy and excited"

Other cast includes Sarah O'Connor (Imelda), Stephanie McKeon (Natalie), Jessica Cervi (Bernie), Mark Dugdale (Derek), Brian Gilligan (Billy), Brian Gilligan (Dean), Joe Woolmer (Mickah) and Joe Woolmer (Ensemble).

Experienced cast members include Killian Donnell (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera) who will play Deco, Ben Fox (Backbeat) who will play Joey ‘The Lips' Fagan, Matthew Wycliffe (Buddy) who will play Outspan and Sean Kearns (Ballykissangel) who will play Jimmy's father.

Roddy Doyle said: "I've been sitting in rehearsals, watching these terrific young people becoming The Commitments. I'm hearing them sing; I'm watching them play their instruments – and it all makes me very happy and excited. What amuses me most is the fact that only one of them was born when I wrote the novel."

The Commitments is directed by Jamie Lloyd and premieres at the West End's Palace Theatre on 8 October 2013 (previews from 21 September).