Actor and impressionist Alistair McGowan (pictured) takes over as the Emcee in Rufus Norris’ award-winning revival of Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre. McGowan succeeds fellow comedian Julian Clary in the role from 21 April 2008.

Although best known for his television work on the BBC’s The Big Impression, McGowan’s stage credits include the Carl Rosa Opera’s production of The Mikado and Little Shop of Horrors in the West End. He made his musical debut in 2006, appearing alongside Judi Dench in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Merry Wives – The Musical.

Kander and Ebb’s 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin of 1931 into a divine haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for war. The current cast also features Amy Nuttall, Angela Richards and Barry James, who co-starred with McGowan in Little Shop of Horrors.

Norris’ revival of Cabaret opened at the Lyric on 10 October 2006 (previews from 23 September) and is currently booking through to 1 November 2008.


Another Kander and Ebb musical, Chicago , has also recently announced a new cast member. Suzanne Shaw, winner of this year’s ITV competition Dancing on Ice, will become the 23rd actress to play Roxie Hart in the West End, taking over the role from Birgitte Hjort Sorensen on 2 June 2008.

Shaw joins a list of stars that includes Ruthie Henshall (the original West End Roxie in this revival), Denise Van Outen, Brooke Shields, Jennifer Ellison and Bonnie Langford, who have all played the role since this production opened, first at the Adelphi Theatre, in 1997. It moved to its current home at the Cambridge in April 2006.

After rising to fame through ITV’s show Popstars, Shaw went on to have several number one singles with Hear’Say, the band formed by the show’s winners. She will star in Chicago for a limited run of six weeks to 12 July 2008.

Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The current stage revival, which transferred from Broadway, is directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by John Lee Beatty, with choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse.


In other West End musical casting news, the producers of Wicked have confirmed the new principal cast which will take over from 9 June 2008. Previously announced members Alexia Khadime and Desmond Barrit (See News, 2 Apr 2008) will be joined by Caroline Keiff as Nessarose, Jeremy Legat as Boq and Andy Mace as Doctor Dillamond. Harriet Thorpe makes her debut tonight (14 April 2008) as Madame Morrible.

Elsewhere, Blood Brothers is now showing at the Phoenix Theatre with a new cast that includes Stephen Palfreman and Richard Reynard as twin brothers Mickey and Eddie, Louise Davidson as Mrs Lyons and Louise Clayton as Linda. Other new cast members include Rob Hughes, Alistair Brookshaw, Amy O’Neill and Karl Greenwood.

- by Theo Bosanquet