Full casting has been announced for the London production of Disney screen-to-stager High School Musical, which runs from 1 July to 31 August 2008 (previews from 28 June) at the Hammersmith Apollo (See News, 28 Jan 2008).

In addition to EastEndersLetitia Dean, who makes her musical debut playing teacher Ms Darbus (See News, 15 Apr 2008), the cast features: Mark Evans (as Troy Bolton), Claire-Marie Hall (Gabriella Montez), Norman Bowman (Coach Bolton), Rebecca Faulkenberry (Sharpay Evans), Michael Pickering (Ryan Evans), Nadine Higgin (Taylor McKessie), Damian Winter-Higgins (Chad Danforth), Dylan Turner (Zeke Baylor), Ben Nicholas (Jack Scott), Laurie Scarth (Martha Cox) and Holly Taylor (Kelsi Neilson).

The stage adaptation of High School Musical tells how Troy, a popular high school basketball star, and Gabriella, a shy, academically gifted newcomer, discover they share a secret passion for singing. When they sign up together to audition for the lead roles in the school musical, it threatens East High's rigid social order and sends their peers into uproar.

Since its US premiere in January 2006, the made-for-TV Disney movie High School Musical has gone on to become a global phenomenon. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the soundtrack has been certified Double Platinum in the UK alone, while DVD sales have topped 1.6 million. The screen sequel, High School Musical 2, broke TV viewing records in both the US and UK.

High School Musical features a book by David Simpatico (adapted from the original film script by Peter Barsocchini) and a score which includes all the songs from the original chart-topping soundtrack, including the UK hit singles “Breaking Free” and “We’re All in This Together”. It’s directed by Jeff Calhoun, designed by Kenneth Foy and choreographed by Lisa Stevens, with costumes by Wade Laboissonniere, lighting by Ken Billington, sound by Rick Clarke and musical production by Bryan Louiselle.

The London cast is completed by Gregor Stewart, Simon Hardwick, Nyroy Dixon, Matt Flint, Adam Bracegirdle, Paul Riddiford, Stevie Hutchinson, Matthew Russell-Jones, Lauren Varnham, Kirsty McDonald, Helen Morris, Maxine Ewenson, Stephanie Siadatan, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Samantha Tan, Hayley Griffiths, Chris Milford, Carl Au, Karli Vale and Sarah-Louise Warden. The Hammersmith run of High School Musical is separate to an 11-month, 29-venue UK regional tour which launched in January (See News, 3 Jul 2007).


In other musical casting news outside of London:

  • Steve Brookstein, the 2004 X Factor winner, will play Dad in the upcoming tour 2003 Laurence Olivier Award-winning Best New Musical Our House, based on the greatest hits of Madness, opposite Gwyneth Strong (TV’s Only Fools and Horses) as Kath Casey. Following an initial three weeks, from 29 May to 21 June 2008, at Birmingham Rep (See News, 8 Jan 2008), the production visits Stoke-On-Trent, Glasgow Edinburgh, Bromley, Bradford, Milton Keynes, Wimbledon, Salford, Sheffield, Sunderland and Southampton, with further dates to be announced from October on. Our House features more than 20 of Madness' hits, including "One Step Beyond", "House of Fun", "My Girl", "Baggy Trousers" and the title song. It has a book by Tim Firth and is directed by Matthew Warchus.

  • Steven Houghton (TV’s London’s Burning) and Grease Is the Word winner Susan McFadden, who was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated for her turn as Sandy in the current West End production of Grease, will star in the new UK tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which opens on 22 August 2008 at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool before continuing, until 4 July 2009, to over 30 more venues. In Oregon circa 1850, Adam goes to town to get a wife. Having convinced Milly to marry him, he brings her back to his backwoods cabin, where she discovers he has six live-in younger brothers who are anxious to get wives of their own. The UK Productions Ltd revival has been touring on and off since 2001. It had a 2006 West End stint at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where Dave Willetts and Shona Lindsay starred (See News, 26 Sep 2006). Chris Hocking directs the new tour.

    - by Terri Paddock