As previously tipped (See The Goss, 17 May 2007), screen-to-stage musical Desperately Seeking Susan, set to the greatest hits of Blondie, will receive its world premiere in the West End this autumn, with Emma Williams taking on the title role, created by Madonna in the 1985 MGM film.

Previously expected to open at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, which is currently being refurbished, Desperately Seeking Susan has instead found a home at another Delfont Mackintosh venue, the Novello Theatre, which will be vacated by the Broadway transfer of The Drowsy Chaperone on 4 August (See News, 9 Jul 2007). Desperately Seeking Susan opens at the Novello on 15 November (previews from 12 October).

In addition to hits such as “Hanging on the Telephone”, “The Tide Is High”, “Heart of Glass”, “Call Me”, “Rapture” and “One Way or Another”, Blondie's Deborah Harry has written a new song, “Moment of Truth”, especially for the new stage production, written and conceived by American writer, actor and director Peter Michael Marino.

Desperately Seeking Susan centres on bored suburban New Jersey housewife Roberta Glass who spots a personal ad entitled “Desperately Seeking Susan” and heads off to Manhattan in search of the exciting, street-smart Susan herself. Things get complicated when, after buying Susan’s jacket, Roberta is knocked unconscious. Awaking with amnesia, she assumes she is Susan, who’s also being desperately sought by the mob. The collision of their identities takes both women on a wild ride …

Since making her debut as the original Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, Emma Williams’ stage credits have included Bat Boy, A Model Girl, Promises, Promises, and last week at the Royal Festival Hall, Sweeney Todd. She’s joined in Desperately Seeking Susan by Kelly Price as Roberta Glass (played by Rosanna Arquette in the film). Price was last seen in the West End playing Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. No further casting has yet been announced.

Desperately Seeking Susan is directed by Angus Jackson, whose credits include Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, and at Chichester Festival Theatre where he’s an associate director, Carousel, The Father and this year’s The Waltz of the Toreadors. The musical is choreographed by American Andy Blankenbuehler (who’s just won a string of awards for the Off-Broadway hit In the Heights), with set and costumes by Tim Hatley, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Hugh Vanstone.

Desperately Seeking Susan is presented in the West End by Susan Gallin, Ron Kastner, Mark Rubinstein and Old Vic Productions.

- by Terri Paddock