Two more leads have been announced for the West End production of Wicked, and the National Theatre has also started casting for another of this autumn’s Broadway musical imports, Caroline, or Change.

Joining Idina Menzel and Adam Garcia in Wicked, which opens at the West End’s Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27 September 2006 (previews from 7 September), are Miriam Margolyes and Nigel Planer as, respectively, Madame Morrible and The Wizard (See News, 26 Apr 2006).

Margolyes is best known for her film roles in Harry Potter and Romeo and Juliet. She won a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for her role in The Age of Innocence and an LA Critics’ Circle Award, also for Best Supporting Actress, for Little Dorrit. She’s currently starring in Peter Hall’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest in New York.

Planer – who has been a key part of the British comedy scene for the last 25 or so years as founder member of the Comedy Store and Comic Strip clubs – is best known for his TV comedy roles in shows like The Young Ones. The author of I, An Actor, a spoof memoir of fictitious luvvie actor Nicholas Craig, who he later played in a one-man show of the same name, Planer made his playwriting debut with On the Ceiling, which had a run at the West End’s Garrick Theatre last year. As an actor, he has appeared on stage in musicals including We Will Rock You, Chicago and Evita and plays like Feelgood and Darwin in Malibu.

Wicked tells the “untold story” of the Witches of Oz - popular blonde Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and her spin-victim friend Elphaba, the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West – who were both immortalised in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The show has a book by Winnie Holtzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell). It’s directed by Joe Mantello and designed by Eugene Lee.

Meanwhile, Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe (pictured - Guys and Dolls, Promises and Lies, Simply Heavenly, Chicago, Company) will star in Caroline, or Change, which is due to start performances in rep at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre from 3 October 2006 (See News, 15 Feb 2006). He’ll be joined in the cast by Angela M Caesar, Malinda Parris (Time’s Up) and Nataylia Roni (The Royal Hunt of the Sun, The Lion King) in the production, directed by Broadway’s George C Wolfe.

The musical has a book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (whose two-part play Angels in America ran at the National in 1992/93) and music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wolfe directed the New York production which ran on Broadway in summer 2004 following an initial sell-out at New York’s Public Theater. Set in Louisiana in 1963, Caroline, or Change tells the story of a black maid to a Southern Jewish family during the civil rights movement.

- by Caroline Ansdell