More cast details and dates have now been confirmed for the West End transfer of Langston Hughes’ Simply Heavenly. The production, which started life at the Young Vic last year, has been included in the company’s first ‘Walkabout’ season following huge acclaim (See News, 7 Jul & 7 Apr 2004). It opens, slightly later than originally planned, at the West End’s recently launched Trafalgar Studios on 25 October 2004 (previews 15 October).

As previously confirmed, leading man Rhashan Stone - who makes his playwriting debut next month with Two Step at the Almeida as part of the three-week Push04 festival of Black-led performing arts (See News, 14 Jul 2004) - and Theatregoers’ Choice Award joint nominees Clive Rowe and Ruby Turner will reprise their roles in the new run.

Other cast members who remain from the original are Nicola Hughes, Dale Superville, Melanie Marshall and Kenny Andrews while newcomers Allyson Brown, Gerod Harris, Dawn Hope make up the company, with three members still to be cast.

Best remembered as the "poet laureate of Harlem", Langston Hughes was a prolific writer whose output included 20 plays and several musicals and operas. He was a cornerstone of the "Harlem Renaissance" that helped bring African-American art and literature into the cultural mainstream.

Simply Heavenly - which first ran on Broadway in 1957, and briefly in London the following year - is born out of a series of short stories featuring the bar room philosophies of Jesse B Semple, an offbeat Harlem everyman in a rapidly changing America. As Jesse attempts to raise the money necessary to marry girlfriend Joyce, his friends from Paddy's bar indulge in beer and the blues.

Simply Heavenly is directed by actress-cum-director Josette Bushell-Mingo (The Lion King), choreographed by Paul J Medford and designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Paul Anderson and sound by Nick Lidster. The show is produced by The Ambassador Theatre Group, Broadway Partners and Incidental Colman

Currently playing at the Trafalgar Studios is John Doyle’s production of Sweeney Todd which is due to close on 9 October 2004.

- by Hannah Kennedy & Terri Paddock