Rufus Norris’ revival of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret will soon have two new leading ladies. From 2 April 2007, Kim Medcalf (pictured) takes over from Anna Maxwell-Martin as Sally Bowles and former Bond girl and 1960s icon Honor Blackman succeeds Olivier Award winner Sheila Hancock as landlady Fraulein Schneider at the West End’s Lyric Theatre.

At the same time, Francis Matthews will replace Geoffrey Hutchings as Herr Schultz. James Dreyfus and Michael Hayden will continue in their roles as the Emcee and Cliff, respectively. The revival, which opened on 10 October 2006 (previews from 23 September), turns Weimar Berlin into a dark and sexually charged haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for the chaos of war.

Best known as Sam Mitchell in popular BBC soap EastEnders, a role she played for five years, Kim Medcalf has recently appeared on stage in Hay Fever, alongside Dame Judi Dench at the Haymarket, while her musical credits include South Pacific.

Honor Blackman’s stage credits include the recent touring production of The Kingfisher and Trevor Nunn and Cameron Mackintosh’s National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, in which she played Mrs Higgins. She also starred as Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie at York Theatre Royal, and appeared as a guest star in the Right Size’s The Play What I Wrote. Her many television roles include The Upper Hand (in which she played Laura West for six years), Doctors, Midsomer Murders, Coronation Street, Revolver and New Tricks.

Francis Matthews co-starred with Blackman in The Kingfisher, so the two are reunited as love interests in Cabaret. He played Badger in The Wind in the Willows at the Old Vic in 1997, and has also starred in regional productions of About Alice, The Gentle Hook and Let’s Do It. His television credits include All About George, Heartbeat and The Royal.

Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, Cabaret has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Cabaret premiered on Broadway on 1966 and in 1972 was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Michael York as Cliff and Joel Grey as the Emcee.

In other musical casting news, Joshua Dallas (The Boy Friend, The Enchanted Pig), Ryan Molloy (Tonight’s the Night, Jerry Springer, Taboo) and Sean Palmer (Marcus from American TV’s Sex and the City) will star as off-duty sailors Gabey, Ozzie and Chip in Jude Kelly’s English National Opera revival of Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town, which broke box office records in 2005 and returns to the London Coliseum for 20 performances only from 20 April to 25 May 2007.

They join, as previously announced (See News, 26 Feb 2007), June Whitfield and original cast members including Caroline O'Connor (Hildy Esterhazy), Helen Anker (Ivy Smith), Rodney Clarke (Master of Ceremonies), Janine Duvitski (Lucy Schmeeler), Alison Jiear (Dolores Dolores) and Lucy Schaufer (Claire de Loone).

With music by Bernstein (West Side Story), book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Singin’ in the Rain) and based on an idea by Jerome Robbins, the musical was famously filmed by MGM starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Set in 1940s New York, three sailors on shore leave embark on the biggest adventure of their lives with just 24 hours to find fun and romance in the world’s most exciting city.

Featuring a cast and orchestra of 105, On the Town is choreographed by Stephen Mear, conducted by Simon Lee and designed by Robert Jones with lighting Mark Henderson.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock