Full casting has been announced for the Menier Chocolate Factory's forthcoming revival of Victoria Wood's award-winning 'comedy with songs' Talent, which runs at the Southwark venue from 23 September to 14 November 2009 (previews from 17 September) and is directed by the writer (See News, 8 Jul 2009). The cast will be led by current Dirty Dancing 'Baby' Leanne Rowe and Suzie Toase as talent show contestants Julie and Maureen, and also features former Blue Peter presenter Mark Curry as the Compere.

Talent premiered in 1978 at the Sheffield Crucible, with Wood herself in the cast, and in 1979 transferred to the ICA in London and won Wood an Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. That same year, a TV adaptation featured Wood and Julie Walters performing together on screen for the first time.

Leanne Rowe (Julie) can currently be seen playing Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre.  Her film credits include Nancy in Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist, while on television she's appeared in Trial and Retribution, Lilies, Boudica and The Famous Five.

Suzie Toase (Maureen) has theatre credits including Into The Woods (Royal Opera House), Guys and Dolls (Donmar Warehouse), My Fair Lady (National Theatre) and Singin’ in the Rain (West Yorkshire Playhouse and National Theatre).  On film, she was most recently seen in the role of Alecto Carrow in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

The cast is completed by Mark Hadfield (Arthur Hall), recently seen in Rookery Nook at the Chocolate Factory and Olivier award-nominated in 2007 for his role in the NT's Therese Raquin; Jeffrey Holland (George Findley), best known for his role as Spike in TV comedy Hi-De-Hi; Eugene O’Hare (Mel), recently seen in the Hampstead's revival of Frank McGuinness' Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme;  and Mark Curry (Compere), who since leaving Blue Peter in 1989 has been seen on stage in regional productions including Tons of Money, Far From the Madding Crowd and Joking Apart.

The revival of Talent is co-produced with the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness, where, prior to the Menier, it will run for 15 performances only from 27 August to 12 September 2009.


John Light, whose stage credits include Julius Caesar and The Tempest for the RSC and Apologia at the Bush, will play the title role in the Globe's forthcoming world premiere production of Trevor Griffiths' A New World - A Life of Thomas Paine, which runs from 3 September to 9 October 2009 (previews from 29 August).

Directed by artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, A New World was initially commissioned as a screenplay by Richard Attenborough (who is an associate on the production), and was first heard as a radio drama last year, starring Jonathan Pryce as the famous 18th century revolutionary.

The stage production, which runs as part of the Globe's Young Hearts season (See News, 12 Feb 2009), features original music by Oscar winning composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare in Love) and is designed by Tim Shortall. Further casting is still to be announced.


In other play casting news:

  • Stephanie Cole, Iain Glen, Gina McKee and Deborah Findlay lead a stellar cast in the final production of the Chichester Festival Theatre's Festival 09 programme, Terence Rattigan’s Separate Tables, which runs from 17 September to 3 October (previews from 10 October). Rattigan’s exploration of human emotion, set in the dining room of the apparently genteel Beauregard Private Hotel, near Bournemouth is made up of two separate stories in two acts, Table by the Window and Table Number Seven, which reveal an undercurrent of guilt and repressed passions. Directed by Chichester associate director Philip Franksm the cast is completed by Josephine Tewson, John Nettleton, Veronica Roberts, Geoff Breton, Holly Goss, Lia Rogers and Connie Walker.

  • [Jane Lapotaire has withdrawn from the world premiere production of Peter Gill's Another Door Closed at the Theatre Royal, Bath, which runs from 11 to 29 August 2009 (previews from 4 August) as part of the annual Peter Hall Company season. A press statement indicated that creative differences were to blame: “Jane and Peter (Gill) had a difference of opinions about the play and Jane felt it best to withdraw. The role of Woman Two will now be played by Marjorie Yates.” The production would have marked Tony Award-winner Lapotaire's first return to the stage in ten years.