As previously tipped (See The Goss, 26 Jan 2006), John Owen-Jones, Rebecca Thornhill, Jenny Galloway and David Burt will star in the Royal Albert Hall’s first-ever fully staged musical, the mammoth in-the-round production of Show Boat which runs for 18 performances only from 10 to 25 June 2006 (opening on 13 June, see News, 6 Dec 2005).

Thornhill, who plays Julie, has most recently been seen in Annie Get Your Gun on tour and Chicago and The Witches of Eastwick in the West End. Owen-Jones, who plays Gaylord Ravenal, is currently Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and was previously London’s longest-serving Phantom of the Opera.

They are joined by Galloway (Mary Poppins, My One and Only, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and Oliver! in the West End) as Parthy Ann Hawkes, Burt (most recently Count Fosco in The Woman in White, also The Far Pavilions, Beautiful and Damned, Brighton Rock, Taboo and Closer to Heaven) as Captain Andy and, also confirmed to date, American Mark Coles (The Magic Flute for Opera North) as Joe.

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, the story follows the lives and loves of a song and dance troupe. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical broke new ground when it premiered on Broadway in 1927, dealing with racial prejudice, poverty and abandonment. Filmed three times (in 1929, 1936 and 1951), Show Boat’s score includes “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”, “Only Make Believe”, “Cotton Blossom”, “You Are Love”, “Bill”, “Why Do I Love You?”, “Life Upon The Wicked Stage” and “After the Ball”.

The musical was last seen in the West End in 1998 when Hal Prince’s Tony Award-winning Broadway revival transferred for a short season at the Prince Edward Theatre (See News, 6 Jul 1998).

The new production is directed by Francesca Zambello and designed by Peter J Davison with costumes by Sue Willmington, lighting by Andrew Bridge, sound by Bobby Aitken, choreography by Arthur Pita and musical direction by David Charles Abell. It’s presented by Raymond Gubbay, co-producing with the Royal Albert Hall.

- by Caroline Ansdell