Touring productions of West End musicals The Producers, which closed at the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane earlier this month, and Footloose, which finished its run at the Novello in November 2006, have both confirmed their regional casts. Meanwhile, following her stint on the road, Claire Sweeney returns to the West End to rejoin the cast of Guys and Dolls alongside Don Johnson.

In addition to the previously announced Peter Kay as Roger DeBris (See News, 13 Nov 2006), The Producers will star Cory English (pictured with Reece Shearsmith in the West End) and John Gordon Sinclair, who have already played the crooked producers Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom in the West End, for its 12-week Manchester season.

The show opens at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on 22 February (previews from 19 February), for a run to 12 May 2007. In Mel Brooks’ irreverent comedy (based on his 1968 Oscar-winning film), washed-up theatre producer Max Bialystock (English) and his timid accountant Leo Bloom (Sinclair) cook up a scheme to make a fortune by presenting a sure-fire flop called "Springtime for Hitler" – directed by the world’s worst director, Roger DeBris.

Since opening in the West End on 9 November 2004, The Producers’ many accolades include Best Musical/New Musical at the Olivier, the Evening Standard, the Whatsonstage.com and the Critics’ Circle Awards. The production recouped its £5,500,000 capitalisation in record-breaking time.

English joins the Manchester run direct from the musical’s London production. In addition to the Mel Brooks musical, his other West End credits include Guys and Dolls and Chicago, while on Broadway he has appeared in Gypsy, Damn Yankees, Hello Dolly! and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Sinclair, who was Whatsonstage.com-nominated for his London stint in The Producers, is probably best known for his BAFTA-nominated performance in the film Gregory’s Girl. In the West End, he has also appeared in She Loves Me, for which he won an Olivier, Gasping and Sweet Panic.

No further tour dates have yet been confirmed. The Producers has music and lyrics by Brooks, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. It’s directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman and designed by Robin Wagner. It’s produced by David Ian, Live Nation and Ambassador Theatre Group.


Meanwhile, the third UK tour of Footloose, which opens at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre on 12 February (previews from 9 February) for a run to 17 February 2007 (See News, 30 Nov 2006), has confirmed it will star pop singers Jonny Shentall (of Hear’Say fame) and the New Seekers’ Lyn Paul.

The story of Footloose centres on city boy Ren who moves with his mother to a small town in middle America where rock music and dancing are outlawed for religious reasons. Sparks fly when Ren and the minister's teenaged daughter Ariel rebel. The 1984 film version starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer.

Shentall’s previous musical theatre credits include Starlight Express, as well as the West End run of Footloose, in which he played Chuck Cranston, the role he is reprising on tour. On television, he starred in MTV’s Totally Scott-Lee. Paul has followed her pop success with a career on TV and stage including Emmerdale and Blood Brothers. The cast also features Giovanni Spano (Fame) as Willard Hewitt and Miria Parvin (Starlight Express) as Ariel Moore.

Footloose has a book by Walter Bobbie and Dean Pitchford, who wrote the original screenplay. The musical is directed and choreographed by Karen Bruce. Following Manchester, it visits Birmingham, Reading, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, Cardiff, Southend, Edinburgh, Bradford, Hastings, Sunderland, Nottingham, Southampton, Rhyl, Darlington, Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Canterbury, Bromley, Leeds and Cheltenham.


And following on from her stint in the UK tour of Guys and Dolls, Brookside's Claire Sweeney heads back into to the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre from 6 February 2007 to reprise her role as Miss Adelaide, taking over from Samantha Janus opposite Miami Vice’s Don Johnson, who has his press performance this week as Nathan Detroit (See News, 22 Nov 2006).

Johnson and Sweeney will be joined in the West End company by other touring cast members Ben Richards (Grease, Little Shop of Horrors and The Full Monty on stage, Footballers’ Wives on TV) as Sky Masterson and Lisa Stokke as Sarah Brown, who take over from Norman Bowman and Amy Nuttall, respectively.

From 6 February 2007, the rest of the cast of Michael Grandage's multi award-winning production will include Jack Edwards, Jo Servi, Carol Ball, Nick Cavaliere, Kate Alexander, Keisha Atwell, Vanessa Barmby, Chris Bennett, Verity Bentham, Louise Bowden, Matt Cikem, Richard Costello, Simon Coulthard, Tom Dwyer, Catherine Greeney, Taylor James, Louise Madison, Eugene McCoy, Denise Pitter, Andrew Playfoot, Jamie Sampson, Spencer Stafford, Claire Taylor, Alain Terzoli, Dominic Watson, Ed White and Anna Woodside.

Based on Damon Runyon’s short stories about New York gamblers and their girls in the 1940s, Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical was made into a 1953 Hollywood film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. The current London production is designed by Christopher Oram, with choreography by Rob Ashford.

- by Caroline Ansdell