An international cast of experienced dancers will join Fame Academy’s James Fox (pictured) in the UK premiere of Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp Broadway dance musical, Movin' Out (See News, 17 Jan 2006). At a press conference held at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London yesterday, the full cast of the production was announced and Fox told Whatsonstage.com how Joel inspired him to become a musician.

After gaining the public’s attention in the BBC talent contest Fame Academy in 2004, Fox went on to represent the UK in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. He then played Judas in the 2004/5 UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, in which he was spotted by Tim Rice, who got him an introduction to the team behind Movin' Out.

Fox features in the leading role of Piano Man, a part he played in the show’s North American tour. The dance musical, with choreography by Tharp, receives its European premiere at the West End’s Apollo Victoria, where it will have a limited run from 18 April to 17 July 2006 (previews from 28 March), ahead of a continental tour (See News, 7 Dec 2005).

Auditions for the show were held worldwide, and as a result, an internationally diverse cast has been selected from countries including Norway, Australia, Brazil, Japan and France, as well as both the UK and USA. Joining Fox are: Holly Cruickshank as Brenda (for which she won the 2005 Helen Hayes Award when she previously played the role on Broadway - her other work includes Contact, Fosse, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Hello Dolly); Ron Todorowski as Eddie (who also won the Helen Hayes Award for Movin' Out and who has starred in Footloose, Copacabana, The Wild Party and Cats); David Gomez as Tony (Movin' Out, Contact); Matthew Dibble as James (Royal Ballet performer); and Laura Costa-Chaud as Judy.

Due to the demands of the show, an alternate principal cast have also been recruited. They are: Sarah Skogland (Brenda), Joshua Horner (Tony) and Cody Green (Eddie).

Fox told Whatsonstage.com: “I’ve been a fan of Billy Joel’s music all my life. I remember listening to one of his albums when I was about six, and that’s what made me decide to take up playing the piano. I heard about this show before it was in production and just had to be involved. I’ve seen Billy Joel play live 15 times. He is just fantastic.”

The Movin' Out story is told without dialogue, combining choreography by double Emmy Award winner Twyla Tharp, with 24 songs written by five-time Grammy Award winner Joel, including classics such as “Uptown Girl”, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, “She’s Got a Way” and title track “Movin’ Out”. The musical opened in Broadway in September 2002, running for more than 1,300 performances before closing in December 2005. It was nominated for ten 2003 Tony Awards and won two, for Joel's orchestrations and Tharp's choreography.

Movin' Out follows a group of high school friends from New York, as they dance their way through the Vietnam War, lost lives, lost loves and lost dreams. Set on Long Island in the 1960s, the king and queen of the prom, Brenda and Eddie, are finished, while forever sweethearts James and Judy are ready for marriage. War splits the friends apart, but finally they reunite to discover they have all found their way back home.

Saturday Night Fever, which is currently playing at the Apollo Victoria, will finish its run this Saturday (18 February 2006). Movin' Out is presented in the West End by IP Live plc.

- by Caroline Ansdell