The West End production of Legally Blonde, which continues at the Savoy Theatre, picked up four gongs at the 2011 Whatsonstage.com Awards, including Best New Musical. Nominated for five Olivier Awards it went on to win Best New Musical, the Best Actress in a Musical prize for Sheridan Smith and Best Supporting Role in a Musical for co-star Jill Halfpenny.
Following its Liverpool run the musical will tour to Bristol, York, Glasgow, Stoke, Birmingham, Manchester, Torquay and Nottingham, with dates confirmed through to a Christmas outing at Sunderland Empire running until 31 December 2011.
Also confirmed in the cast are: Gemma Baird, Lori Barker, Niamh Bracken, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Lewis Griffiths, Hannah Grover, Charlotte Harwood, Katie-Marie Hicks, Sophie Isaacs, Nia Jermin, Graham Lappin, Sinead Long, Rhona McGregor, Chris Milford, Zak Nemorin, Andy Rees, Jon Reynolds, Micha Richardson, Amy Ross, Michael Steedon, Barnaby Thompson, Michael Vinsen and Hannah Woolley.
Faye Brookes was recently seen in the West End as Frenchy in Grease; Iwan Lewis has appeared in the West End production of Fame and Passion at the Donmar Warehouse; Ex-Atomic Kitten Liz McClarnon, who will stay with the production until 17 September 2011, was also seen in the arena production of The War of the Worlds; Neil Toon will be familiar to fans of Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks with London theatre credits including Les Miserables; and West End regular Dave Willetts has been seen in Les Miserables, Phantom of The Opera and Sunset Boulevard.
Based on the 2001 Hollywood film in which Reese Witherspoon played California sorority girl Elle Woods, the show is directed by Tony Award-winning and Olivier Award-nominated choreographer Jerry Mitchell.
The Landor Theatre, which last week announced an ambitious autumn season including Carousel directed by Jeremy Lloyd Thomas and Ragtime helmed by artistic director Robert McWhir, will stage Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents' classic 1959 musical Gypsy with Rosemary Ashe in the role of Rose.
Ashe will take the role, originally played by Ethel Merman in the show's debut Broadway, for the Landor's revival running from 2 to 27 August 2011.
Amongst numerous theatre credits, Ashe has appeared in the original London company of The Phantom of the Opera, The Witches of Eastwick, the original London production of Mary Poppins, played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Oliver! at the London Palladium and Sweeney Todd.
Further casting is to be announced.
Above the Stag will stage the third Blink! Again! revue, celebrating the "hidden gems" and "priceless clangers" in obscure and "failed" musicals, directed and choreographed by Tim McArthur from 9 June (previews 7 June) to 2 July 2011.
Musicals will this year include Which Witch, Maddie, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Moby Dick, Pageant, The Rink, Dance of the Vampires, Batboy, The Little Mermaid and Tarzan with promises of work by composers Kander and Ebb, Phil Collins, Schonberg and Boublil, and Stephen Schwartz.
The production's cast include Peter Navickas whose West End credits include Sweet Charity at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and Josh Boyd Rochford, Ashley Martin and Paul Brangan who were all recently seen in Cleveland Street the Musical which closed last weekend at Above the Stag.
Tim McArthur’s recent directing credits included My Beautiful Laundrette, Cleveland Street the Musical, Blink Twice, Maurice and Dangerous. His other revues include Coloured Lights and last year's Jermyn Street Theatre Sondheim revue, Hidden Moments, Classic Treasures.
Blink! Again! has musical direction by Huw Evans, set and costume design by Nina Morley, lighting by Chris Withers and video design by Richard Lambert. It is presented and devised by artistic director Peter Bull for Above the Stag.
Finally in musical casting news, Gerry Ware's new musical 1888 opens at the Union Theatre on 10 June (previews from 7 June 2011) with a cast which includes Vlach Ashton, Angeline Bell, Stacey V Bland, Stephanie Hampton, Matthew Ibbotson, Stephen Lloyd, Steph Parry, Phineas Pett, Craig Vincent Power, Dudley Rogers and Gemma Salter.
Set against the backdrop of London in 1888, horrific incidents occurred during the hot summer that gripped the East End from Whitechapel to Hoxton. A Detective Constable and house maid, two young lovers, must work together in an attempt to end a spree of carnage that would challenge and ultimately change the face and attitudes of the city forever.
It has direction and choreography by Omar F Okai, musical direction and orchestrations by Richard Bates, set and costume design by David Shields, lighting by Charlie Lucas and sound by Matt Hall.
1888 is presented by Simon James Collier and the Okai Collier Company for Silhouette Theatre Productions.