Further casting information has been released this week for two upcoming West End musicals: the world premiere adaptation of MM Kaye’s popular 1978 historical novel The Far Pavilions, which opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 14 April 2005 (previews from 24 March); and English National Opera’s revival of Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 Broadway classic On the Town at the London Coliseum, which runs in repertory, for 17 performances only, from 10 March to 24 May 2005 (previews from 5 March).

In The Far Pavilions (See News, 26 Oct 2004), set in 19th-century colonial India and spanning 25 years, Hadley Fraser (Peter Pan, The Pirates of Penzance, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors) will play British officer Ashton Pelham-Martyn who falls for Bollywood singer Gayatri Iyer’s forbidden Indian princess Anjuli. They’re joined by Kulvinder Ghir (Twelfth Night, Midnight’s Children, TV’s Goodness Gracious Me) as Rana of Bhitor, Dianne Pilkington (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Tonight’s the Night, Taboo) as Belinda, and David Burt (Brighton Rock, Beautiful and Damned, Closer to Heaven) as Harkness.

The cast also features Simon Gleeson (as Walter), Kabir Bedi (Kahn Sahib), Sophiya Haque (Janoo Rani), Shaheen Khan (Sita), David Savile (Sir Louis Cavagnari), Stewart Scudamore (Maharajah of Gulkote), Dean Hussain (Awol Shah) and John Trakos (Roberts). Others in the 50-strong cast include: Fiona Wade, Rick Savery, Christopher Dickens, Graham Vick, Robert Scotcher,Tomos Griffiths, Ralph Birtwell, Irvine Iqbal, Dan de Cruz, Nick Ferranti, Clare Foster, Caroline Keiff, Marina Abdeen, Meryl Fernandes, Shirani Bolle, Asha Kingsley, Nikki Haw, Hannah Chick, Sunil Pramanik and Jez Unwin.

The stage version of The Far Pavilions has book and lyrics by Stephen Clark and music by Philip Henderson. The premiere production is directed by Gale Edwards and designed by Lez Brotherston, with costumes by Andreanne Neofitou, lighting by Peter Mumford, sound by Rick Clarke, choreography by orchestrations by John Cameron and musical supervision by David White with Kuljit Bhamra acting as Indian music associate. It’s produced by Michael E Ward and John Whitney, in association with Arjun C Waney and Reita Gadkari.

In On the Town (See News, 19 Nov 2004), the previously announced Adam Garcia (as Chip), Caroline O'Connor (Hildy), and Helen Anker (Ivy) will be joined by 2004 Whatsonstage.com Award nominee Tim Howar (Tonight’s the Night, Peggy Sue Got Married) as Ozzie, Aaron Lazar (Oklahoma!, The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway), Janine Duvitski (Abigail’s Party, TV’s One Foot in the Grave) as Lucy, veteran Sylvia Syms (At Home with the Braithwaites, Ruth Rendell, Ice Cold in Alex) as Madame Maude, and opera singer Lucy Schaufer as Claire.

An ENO spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that, as part of the company’s commitment to widening the scope of its repertoire to embrace more musicals (See The Goss, 26 Jul 2004), “The majority of people on stage (for On the Town) will have a musical theatre background, supplemented where necessary by operatic expertise.”

Amongst the operatic experts is leading bass Willard H White in the supporting role of a workman. Others in the 55-strong cast include Philip Ball, Greg Winter, Stuart Dawes, Tom Dwyer, Bob J Harms, Nick Holmes, Stori James, James O’Connell, Darragh O’Leary, Craig Scott, Nick Searle, Tristan Temple, Liam Mikhail Wrate, Lucy Anderson, EJ Boyle, Chloe Campbell, Julia Hinchcliffe, Rebecca Lee, Jane McMurtrie, Jo Morris, Alexis Owen-Hobbs, Amy Ellen Richardson, Lorraine Stewart and Danielle Young.

On the Town follows the fast-paced tale of three American sailors – Chip, Ozzie and Gabey – who, during one day’s wartime shore leave, set out to experience the best of New York, not least its ladies – Hildy, Claire and Ivy. The 1949 screen version starred Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, as Chip and Gabey.

The show has music by Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins. The ENO revival will be directed by former West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly and choreographed by Stephen Mear, conducted by Simon Lee and designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Mark Henderson.

- by Terri Paddock