Kneehigh Theatre Company's adaptation of Michel Legrand's 1964 French film musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg will play the West End's Gielgud Theatre from 22 March (previews from 5 March), initially booking for a 30 week season through to 1 October 2011.
Adapted and directed by Emma Rice with a translation by Sheldon Harnick the story is described in marketing material as "a French romance that just happens to be sung". The production plays Leicester's Curve Theatre from 11 to 26 February prior to its West End transfer.
The story centres on the doomed romance of young lovers Genevieve and Guy — taking its name from the Cherbourg umbrella shop Genevieve's mother owns — but whose love is interrupted by Guy's military service.
Two-time Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding, whose recent West End credits include Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace will play Madame Emery whilse cabaret diva Meow Meow plays Lola. Carly Bawden, who makes her West End debut in the production, plays Genevieve alongside Andrew Durand as Guy. Durand's recent stage credits include the Broadway production of Spring Awakening.
They are joined in the cast by Gareth Charlton (Don Giovanni, ENO), Cynthia Erivo (The Three Musketeers and the Princess of Spain, ETT), Dominic Marsh (The Woman in Black), Aki Omoshaybi (Hair) and ensemble members Laura Brydon (Jersey Boys) and Matt Wilman (Mamma Mia).
The project marks the first major work for Kneehigh's artistic director Emma Rice since her 2008 multimedia production of Brief Encounter, which had an extended, sell-out run in a converted cinema on the Haymarket before transferring to Broadway.
The original 1964 film, which was written and directed by Jacques Demy, was nominated for five Oscars including Best Song for "I Will Wait for You". Other songs from the film, which starred a 19-year-old Catherine Deneuve as Geneviève, include “Watch What happens".
Composer Michel Legrand is an Oscar winning composer, arranger, conductor and pianist who has created over 200 film scores including The Thomas Crown Affair and Summer of '42. His other scores for film musicals include the 1983 romantic drama Yentl which starred and had a screenplay by Barbra Streisand.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is produced in the West End by Daniel Sparrow and Mike Walsh Productions, Curve Leicester and City Lights International in association with Be Yu Productions.
Currently at the Gielgud, the Chichester transfer of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn's Yes, Prime Minister closes on 15 January prior to a national tour from Brighton's Theatre Royal on 3 February. The show, which brings the much-loved BBC television series to the stage for the first time, will be recast for the tour with Richard McCabe playing hapless politician Jim Hacker with Simon Williams as Sir Humphrey Appleby.