Ahead of performances starting in August, the inmates of HMP Larkhall were today granted day release in order to visit the West End’s Garrick Theatre for the launch of Bad Girls The Musical (See Today’s Other News). The stage adaptation of the long-running ITV drama opens at the 650-seat playhouse, to be sanctioned an “annex” of the show’s prison, on 12 September 2007 (previews from 16 August).

A uniformed Helen Fraser - who played guard Sylvia ‘Bodybag’ Hollamby in all eight series of Bad Girls on screen and who will reprise her performance on stage in the West End – oversaw today’s proceedings, barking orders at both the cast and the 200 industry guests and journalists in attendance.

A promotional film comprised interviews with director Maggie Norris, composer/lyricist Kath Gotts and producer Tristan Baker as well as extracts from the TV series and the stage show’s original 2006 run at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse. Its screening was followed by a live rendition of the musical’s number “The Baddest and the Best” performed by cast members Nicole Faraday (as Shell Dockley), Amanda Posener (Denny Blood), Caroline Head (Nikki Wade), Julie Jupp (Julie Saunders), Rebecca Wheatley (Julie Johnson) and Sally Dexter (Yvonne Atkins). Guests were also give swag bags of show merchandise.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL BAD GIRLS – THE MUSICAL LAUNCH PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.

For Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the launch and performance extract at the Garrick Theatre and at the “sentencing” reception held afterwards in the Courtrooms at Brown’s bar and restaurant on St Martin’s Lane.

The television drama, set in the fictional prison Larkhall, ran on ITV for eight series from 1999 to 2006. The musical, written by the creators of the TV series, is based around some of the core characters from season one. In it, idealistic new Wing Governor Helen Stewart tries to make improvements on G Wing, but old guard officers, including Jim Fenner and his sidekick Sylvia Hollamby, stand in her way. A death on the ward leads to an angry protest which also forces Stewart and her love interest inmate Nikki Wade onto their opposite sides of the bars.

Additional inmate characters include Shell Dockley and her runner Denny Blood, the Two Julies, and the top dog and missus to the king of gangland, Yvonne Atkins. Also in the cast are David Burt, Maria Charles, Laura Rogers and Chris Grierson.

- by Terri Paddock