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Zimmerman, Urbani, Praed & Wildor Make Contact

By • West End
Casting details have been announced for the West End premiere of award-winning Broadway 'dance musical' Contact, which opens at the Queens Theatre on 23 October 2002, following previews from 3 October. The London company will include former Royal Ballet star Sarah Wildor as well as West End favourites Leigh Zimmerman, Craig Urbani, Gavin Lee and, returning to the West End after a decade's absence, Michael Praed.

Devised by Stroman (who also choreographs and directs) and James Weidman, Contact presents three stories - titled "Swinging", "Did You Move?" and "Contact! - told through dance and dialogue as the characters struggle to connect with one another. The piece is inspired by a real-life event when Stroman witnessed a young woman in a short yellow dress bedazzle a succession of suitors at an after-hours Manhattan dance club.

American Zimmerman, who plays the famous ‘Girl in the Yellow Dress’, has starred in both the Broadway and West End productions of Chicago. South African-born Urbani's London musical credits include Buddy, Fame, Happy Days and Grease, which he's currently touring. Lee's London musical credits include A Saint She Ain't and last year's Peggy Sue Got Married while Praed is best known to London theatregoers for starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1991 production of Aspects of Love as well as The Pirates of Penzance at Drury Lane.

Also in the cast of Contact are Helen Anker, Lucy Banfield, Chris Bailey, Lucy Casson, Nathan Clarke, Leigh Daniels, Michael Denman, Candace Evans, Matthew Flint, Roberto Giuffrida, Thom Graham, Chris Jarvis, Pip Jordan, Edward Marsden, Hayley Newton, Gabrielle Noble, Lucy Potter, Spencer Soloman, Dean Street and Scott Wyer.

Commissioned by New York's Lincoln Center Theater, Contact first opened at the Newhouse Theatre in September 1999, then transferred to the larger Vivan Beaumont Theater on Broadway in March 2000. That year, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical, despite the fact that none of the performers sing and there is no original music. Contact will close after two-and-a-half years on Broadway on 1 September. The piece is now being adapted for a screen version, to be directed by Stroman.

Best known to UK theatregoers for her choreography in Trevor Nunn's revival of Oklahoma!, Stroman's many other stage credits include Crazy for You, Show Boat, The Music Man and the current Broadway production of The Producers, which swept the boards of last year's Tony Awards with 12 wins in total.

- by Terri Paddock


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