The Menier Chocolate Factory (pictured) has now confirmed dates for the much-anticipated UK premiere of Tony Award-winning American composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years (See News, 24 Mar 2006). The semi-autobiographical two-hander song cycle about a marital breakdown will start performances at the Menier in Southwark, south London, on 18 July 2006 and is scheduled to run until 30 September 2006.

Although no cast or creative team has yet been officially announced, Matthew White is signed up to direct. Best known as an actor, White was nominated for an Olivier Award for his role as Younger Brother in the UK premiere of Ragtime. His other West End credits include The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Other names previously mentioned in connection with The Last Five Years at the Menier have included Australian Damian Humbley (the second Walter Hartwright in The Woman in White) and Rachel Leskovac (who was nominated for an Olivier Award for her role as Viv Nicholson in Spend Spend Spend in the West End).

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