Ruthie Henshall strikes a pose as the titular character in Marguerite, the new musical that receives its world premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket this month (20 May 2008, previews from 7 May).

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camellias, Marguerite relocates the action to the Second World War. Marguerite is the notorious mistress of high-ranking German officer Otto; Armand is the young musician, half her age, who falls obsessively in love with her. Their love story is played out against the background of Occupied Paris.

The show has music by Oscar-winning film composer Michel Legrand and a book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg (whose previous collaborations include Les Miserables and Miss Saigon) and Jonathan Kent. The English lyrics are written by Herbert Kretzmer, from the original French lyrics by Boublil.

Ruthie Henshall – whose many West End and Broadway credits include Chicago, The Woman in White, Crazy for You, Peggy Sue Got Married and Les Miserables takes the title role, alongside Julian Ovenden as Armand. Henshall told What’s On Stage magazine recently that she\'s enjoying the challenge of creating a new role. “Being in a world premiere is unique because you come in on the first floor. The writers are here all day and stuff gets to be rewritten around what you are bringing to your character”, says Henshall, who was first spotted as a chorus member in Miss Saigon (for more interviews see Features, 12 May 2008).



Also included in the 16-strong cast are Alexander Hanson (as Otto), Don Gallagher, Mark Carroll, Keiron Crook, James Doherty, Siubhan Harrison, Jon-Paul Hevey, Julia Nagle, Duncan Smith, Gay Soper, Phillip Sutton and Lucy Williamson. The musical is designed by Paul Brown, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Paul Groothuis and choreography by Arthur Pita.

Marguerite is presented by Marguerite Productions, the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company and Bob Boyett. If it’s a hit at the Haymarket, it is likely that a Broadway premiere and other international productions will follow.

By Theo Bosanquet