Malcolm Sinclair (pictured) will replace Nicholas Le Prevost as Colonel Pickering. Sinclair just last month completed his Olivier-nominated performance as Major Giles Flack in Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse. Though Sinclair played the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves in 1996, he's better known for his more frequent non-musical credits which, of late, have also included Luther, Cressida and Alan Ayckbourn's inter-linked plays House and Garden.
Peter Prentice and Dilys Laye will assume the roles of Freddy Eynsford-Hill and Mrs Pearce respectively. Prentice's previous credits include Sweeney Todd and Les Parents Terrible at the National, while Laye was recently seen in the RSC's The Secret Garden.
Jennings - whose casting as Professor Henry Higgins, replacing Jonathan Pryce, was announced in December - recently won Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for two productions at the National Theatre, the Restoration comedy The Relapse and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. He has regularly played the lead in NT and RSC productions such as Albert Speer, Hamlet, Richard II and Peer Gynt, for which he won a Best Actor Olivier. His other theatre credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, The Liar and Too Clever By Half, for which he won a second Olivier and a Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. My Fair Lady will mark Jennings' first foray into musicals.
The production will continue to star Dennis Waterman as Alfred P Doolittle, Caroline Blakiston as Mrs Higgins and Joanna Riding as the main Eliza Doolittle, while Katie Knight Adams will take over from Alexandra Jay playing Eliza on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees.
In addition to Riding and Pryce, My Fair Lady currently stars Dennis Waterman (Alfred Doolittle), Nicholas Le Provost (Colonel Pickering) and Mark Umbers (Freddy Eynsford-Hill). It is choreographed by Matthew Bourne, with design by Anthony Ward with lighting by David Hersey and sound by Paul Groothuis. The musical supervisor is David White, musical director Nick Davies and orchestrator William D Brohn, with original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett.
The 1956 musical, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, is adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion. An opinionated linguistics professor, Henry Higgins, sets out to prove that he can turn anyone into a lady. He chooses as his specimen one cockney flower girl, Eliza, and introduces her to high society. The famous score includes "I Could Have Danced All Night", "Wouldn't It Be Loverly", "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face", "Why Can't the English" and "The Rain in Spain."
Following its original three-month, sell-out run at the NT Lyttelton, the current revival transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal Drury Lane in July 2001. Last month it won three Laurence Olivier Awards, including Outstanding Musical Production. It is now taking bookings into 2003.
- by Terri Paddock