Still more casting titbits for two of the spring’s most hotly anticipated musicals, both revivals of Broadway classics set in New York City: Frank Loesser’s 1950 Guys and Dolls, which opens at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre on 1 June 2005 (previews from 19 May); and the English National Opera staging of Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 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 former, Jenna Russell is now confirmed to play Sarah Brown, the Salvation Army love interest opposite Ewan McGregor’s gambling chancer Sky Masterson. As already announced, the cast also features Douglas Hodge and Ally McBeal’s Jane Krakowski as fellow gambler Nathan Detroit and his long-suffering girlfriend Miss Adelaide (See News, 11 Jan 2005). Russell’s previous musical credits include High Society, Martin Guerre and, at the Donmar Warehouse, Into the Woods. On TV, she’s been seen in Born and Bred, Men Only and Peak Practice.

Guys and Dolls has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and a book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerlin, based on the short stories by Damon Runyon about New York low-life in the 1940s. Loesser’s score includes classics such as “Adelaide’s Lament”, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, “Sue Me”, “Luck Be a Lady”, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and the title song.

The “musical fable of Broadway” first reached London in 1953 when it ran for 555 performances at the Coliseum. It was made into a 1953 Hollywood film starring Marlon Brandon, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. In 1982, Richard Eyre mounted a multi award-winning production at the National, which was revived in 1996. This will be the first new London production in 23 years.

Directed by Michael Grandage, the Donmar Warehouse’s artistic director, Guys and Dolls will be the first Donmar musical originated outside of its own 250-seat auditorium (See News, 17 Jun 2004). It’s designed by Christopher Oram, with choreography by Rob Ashford, musical supervision by Jae Alexander, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Terry Jardine and Chris Full. It’s produced in the West End by the Ambassador Theatre Group and David Ian for Clear Channel Entertainment, in association with the Donmar’s own in-house production team.

At the London Coliseum, Alison Jiear will join the 55-strong On the Town cast which already features fellow musical stars Adam Garcia, Tim Howar, Caroline O'Connor and Helen Anker as well as opera singer Willard H White (See News, 14 Jan 2005).

Jiear originated, and is still playing, the role of aspiring pole dancer Shawntel (pictured) in Jerry Springer - The Opera, for which she was Olivier and Award-nominated. In the ENO production, the former member of the Fabulous Singlettes, and an accomplished solo artiste in her own right, will play cabaret singers, Diana Dream and Dolores Dolores, in two different New York nightclubs.

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 the Big Apple, not least its ladies – Hildy, Claire and Ivy. The 1949 screen version starred Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

The show has music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Robbins. The ENO revival is 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