While speculation and competition still continues around the casting of their leading men, the female co-stars for two of the West End’s big upcoming musicals - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Hairspray - are now lined up.

Bombay Dreams star Preeya Kalidas (pictured) will return to the West End to take the role of the Narrator in Joseph, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Biblical musical, which opens on 17 July 2007 (previews from 6 July) at the Adelphi Theatre (See News, 5 Apr 2007).

Kalidas made her West End debut in June 2002 originating the starring role of Priya in the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced Bollywood-set musical Bombay Dreams, for which she was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Musical. On film, she's appeared in Bend It Like Beckham and Bollywood Queen.

The Joseph cast also features Dean Collinson (Whistle Down the Wind) as Pharaoh,Stephen Tate (Les Miserables, The Witches of Eastwick, Jesus Christ Superstar) as Jacob, father of Joseph and his 11 jealous brothers (Tate will also play Potiphar and a Guru), and John Alastair (Mamma Mia!) as Brother Reuben.

Also in the ensemble are: Kate Alexander, Jennifer Ashton, Paul Basleigh, Verity Bentham, James Bisp, Tyman Boatwright, Simon Coulthard, Lucie Downer, Tom Gillies, Emma Harris, Pip Jordan, Louise Madison, Emily Mascarenhas, Sarah Meade, Nathaniel Morrison, Mark Oxtoby, Adam Pearce, Tamlyn Platts, Pippa Raine, Fiona Reyes, Ricky Rojas, Craig Scott, Jonathan Stewart, Kate Tydman, Russell Walker, Neal Wright and Danielle Young.

The live final to decide who will take the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is this Saturday 9 June care of BBC One’s TV casting competition Any Dream Will Do (See News, 10 Apr 2007). The three finalists are: professional actor Lee Mead, 25 (who’s previously been in the West End in Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera); supermarket customer service assistant and student Keith Jack, 19; and student and former boyband member Lewis Bradley, 17.

The new staging of the record-breaking 1990s production at the London Palladium, which was directed by the late Steven Pimlott, will once again be designed by Mark Thompson and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. Joseph started life in 1968 as a 20-minute entertainment for an end-of-term school concert. By the time it received its Broadway premiere in 1982, it had been expanded into a full two-hour show. With music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Joseph’s popular score includes the songs "Any Dream Will Do", "Close Every Door to Me", “Go, Go, Go Joseph”, “Those Canaan Days”, “Benjamin Calypso” and "One More Angel in Heaven".

Meanwhile, at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre (See News, 18 May 2007), newcomer Leanne Jones will play geeky teen Tracy Turnblad - a big girl with a big heart, big dreams and big hair – when Broadway screen-to-stage musical Hairspray receives its UK premiere on 30 October 2007 (previews from 11 October). The starring role will mark the West End debut for the young actress, who just graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts last year.

An official casting announcement is expected imminently. Amongst the names mentioned in connection with the cross-dressing part of Tracy’s mother Edna Turnblad have been Bob Hoskins, Ricky Gervais and Little Britain’s Matt Lucas (See The Goss, 30 Mar 2007). Harvey Fierstein originated the role of Edna on Broadway and, in this year’s upcoming film of the musical, John Travolta will drag up for the part.

Hairspray premiered in August 2002 at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theater, where it’s still running, and went on to win eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Based on John Waters' cult retro 1988 film and set in 1960s Baltimore, it tells the story of Tracy, who finds celebrity on a TV dance programme. Can she get the guy and still have time to change the world? The musical has a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Whitman and Shaiman. It’s directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell.

- by Terri Paddock