Damian Humbley (pictured) and Lara Pulver will star in the UK premiere of Tony Award-winning American composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years at Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory when it opens on 25 July 2006 (previews from 18 July) for a run to 30 September 2006 (See News 13 Jun 2006).

Humbley was the second Walter Hartright in the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White. In his native Australia, he appeared as Billy Boy Bill in Urinetown for Melbourne Theatre Company, and Giorgio Bachetti in Passion for Halogen Productions.

Pulver has appeared in the national tours of Miss Saigon, High Society, The Boyfriend, Chicago and Honk! as well as the West End production of Grease.

The semi-autobiographical two-hander song cycle about a marital breakdown is told by the man, starting at the couple’s first meeting and ending in the present, and by the woman, working backwards from the break-up. The Menier production is directed by Matthew White, who is best known as an actor for his roles in Ragtime (for which he was nominated for an Olivier), The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Brown himself performed a concert version of The Last Five Years with Lauren Kennedy (South Pacific) at a one-off fund-raising gala at the Bridewell Theatre in 2002. His work was last seen in London in December 2005, when Brown again appeared in concert, performing with his band the Caucasian Rhythm Kings and guest stars Joanna Riding and Frances Ruffelle for a season of five concerts at the Off-West End New Player’s Theatre in Charing Cross (See News, 6 Oct 2005).

Brown’s other musicals include Songs for a New World, which had its UK premiere at the Bridewell in 2001, and Parade, for which the composer-lyricist won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Original Score.

Currently at the Menier, Chris England’s new Rugby World Cup-inspired comedy Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson finishes its limited season on 2 July 2006. The Menier’s last musical production, Sam Buntrock’s award-winning revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, transferred last month to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre where it recently extended until September (See News, 8 Jun 2006).

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock