As previously tipped (See The Goss, 4 Jan 2006), the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Whatsonstage.com Award-winning production of Sunday in the Park with George will transfer to the West End this spring. It will open at Wyndham’s Theatre on 23 May 2006 (previews from 13 May), but with a new leading lady.

With the transfer, Jenna Russell (currently starring in the West End revival of Guys and Dolls, for which she was nominated for both Olivier and Whatsonstage.com awards) will take over from Anna-Jane Casey as Dot, muse and mistress to George Seurat, played by Daniel Evans (who won an Olivier for Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along). Evans will reprise his role in the West End along with the rest of the current cast including Simon Green, Alasdair Harvey, Mark McKerracher, Liza Sadovy and Gay Soper.

Sam Buntrock’s acclaimed revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical opened at the Menier in Southwark, south London, on 29 November 2005 (previews from 18 November). When a three-week extension was announced last month (See News, 4 Jan 2006), the extra dates sold out within days. The Menier run now finishes on 12 March 2006.

Exploring the creative process of French impressionist Georges Seurat, Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 musical begins in 19th-century France, where the impoverished painter battles with his art and his personal life. His engrossment in his work drives his pregnant girlfriend Dot to leave him. The action then shifts to modern America where George’s great-grandson is facing similar problems.

Sunday in the Park with George has music by and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. The Menier’s is the first major London production since the National staged the musical’s UK premiere in 1990 (See News, 21 Oct 2005). The production features ground-breaking computer-generated set design by David Farley and Timothy Bird, who jointly won this year’s Critics’ Circle Award for Best Designer for their efforts (See News, 31 Jan 2006). The production was nominated for five Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards and won Best Off West End Production (See News, 31 Jan 2006).

In the West End, Sunday in the Park with George is presented by Broadway producer Boyett Ostar, David Babani and Danielle Tarento for Chocolate Factory Productions, Caro Newling for Neal Street Productions and Mark Rubinstein. Currently at Wyndham’s, David Grindley’s new production of Joanna Murray Smith’s Honour, starring Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis, opens next Tuesday 14 February 2006 for a limited run to 6 May.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock