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Naomi & Mel B Join Monologues Cast Ahead of Gala

By • West End
Naomi Campbell (pictured) will follow fellow supermodels Caprice and Sophie Dahl by making her West End stage debut in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. The production, presented by a constantly changing trio of female celebrities, finishes its run at the Arts Theatre on 23 February 2002, before transferring back to the New Ambassadors Theatre on 26 February. Campbell is expected to join the cast from 25 March.

Before that, the first cast back at the New Ambassadors will be headed by pop star Melanie B, aka Scary Spice from the Spice Girls. Meanwhile, later this spring, a special one-off charity performance, billed as V-Day UK, will be held at the Royal Albert Hall in April, with a huge all-star ensemble expected to participate.

Campbell has been all over the British newspapers this week, with huge headlines about her confessed drug addiction. The 31-year-old model went to court to sue the Mirror newspaper for invasion of privacy for revealing her rehabilitation treatments. Taking the stand, she publicly admitted the problems with drug and sex that have arisen from her modelling career, which began when she was spotted by a talent scout at the age of 15.

Over the past 16 years, Campbell has become one of fashion's most recognisable faces. She was the first black model to appear on the covers of international magazines including the French and British versions of Vogue and the news weekly Time. She has also tried her hand, with mixed success, at writing novels, recording pop singles and releasing her own brand of perfumes. Campbell's screen and television work includes Girl 6, Miami Rhapsody, NY Undercover, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and, ironically, a film called Invasion of Privacy.

Originally seen Off-Off Broadway in 1996, the award-winning Vagina Monologues was first seen in London in 1999 when it ran for a six-week season at the fringe King's Head Theatre. During that UK outing, a special Valentine's Day performance, repeating a similar affair run the year before in New York, was mounted at the West End's Old Vic Theatre. Joining Ensler on stage for the V-Day celebration were a host of British and American actresses, including Kate Winslet, Natasha McElhone, Melanie Griffiths, Marisa Tomei, Cate Blanchett, Calista Flockhart, Gillian Anderson and Jane Lapotaire.

This year's V-Day UK event will be held at the Royal Albert Hall - albeit quite a bit later than Valentine's Day, on 5 April 2002 - with proceeds going to a variety of women's charities. Once again a constellation of stars - actresses, as well as models, singers, musicians and other performers - are expected. A full cast list for the gala won't be available until closer to the time, however, if the Monologues roll call to date is anything to go by, it's sure to be a hugely high profile event.

During its run to date, the production has featured regularly refreshed three-strong companies, which have included stars such as Ruthie Henshall, Loretta Swit, Jerry Hall, Pam Ferris, Jenny Éclair, Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Amy Irving, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dannii Minogue, Kika Markham, Meera Syal, Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes, Suzanne Bertish, Elizabeth McGovern, Nina Wadia, Helen Lederer and Lauren Ward. The current cast features soul singer Lisa Stansfield, Celia Noble and Anita Dobson.

The West End production of Ensler's show opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre in May 2001 where it closed on 22 September before re-opening a month later at the Arts Theatre. Last month, the show received a 2002 Laurence Olivier nomination for Best Entertainment.

The Vagina Monologues, subtitled "An Anthropological Exploration", reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The material was gathered from hundreds of intimate interviews, conducted by Ensler, in which women were asked probing questions such as "If it (your vagina) could talk, what would it say?".

- by Terri Paddock


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