Full casting has now been announced for screen-to-stage musical Desperately Seeking Susan, set to the greatest hits of Blondie, which premieres on 15 November (previews from 12 October) at the West End’s Novello Theatre (See Photos, 11 Jul 2007).

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 and her freewheeling boyfriend Jay. 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 …

In addition to the previously announced Kelly Price and Emma Williams as Roberta and Susan, the parts played in the 1985 MGM film by Rosanna Arquette and Madonna, the musical’s cast will feature Mark McGee (as Jay), Jonathan Wrather (Gary), Alec Newman (Des) and Leanne Best (Leslie).

Wrather is best known from TV’s Coronation Street and Crossroads. McGee’s previous West End musical credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, Taboo, Starlight Express and Whistle Down the Wind. Newman has been seen in Dune, Staring at the Sun and Frankenstein on screen, and The Soldiers’ Fortune, Andorra and Plenty on stage. Best’s recent theatre credits include Unprotected, The Flint Street Nativity and Popcorn.

Also in the Desperately Seeking Susan cast are Lucy Banfield, Matthew Boulton, Chloe Campbell, Matt Flint, Alex Gaumond, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Kaisa Hammarlund, Paul Hazel, Christine Holman, Steven Houghton, Toussaint Meghie, Twinnie-Lee Moore, Steven Serlin, Chris Piper, Laura Scott, Lincoln Stone and Gemma Whitelam.

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

** Don’t miss our Whatsonstage.com Outing to DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN on 24 October - including a FREE programme, EXCLUSIVE post-show cast reception & FREE souvenir badge sets for early bookers! – all for just £34.50!!! – click here to book now! **

This Christmas, Suzanne Shaw, Mel Giedroyc and Helen Baker will feature in the Barbican’s second annual pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, which has a book by Beautiful Thing playwright Jonathan Harvey and original music by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (See News, 26 Jul 2007). Directed by Giles Havergal, it runs from 6 December 2007 (previews from 1 December) to 12 January 2008.

A former member of Hear’Say, the band formed by the winners of TV’s first Popstars competition in 2001, Suzanne Shaw has since appeared regularly on stage in the likes of Summer Holiday and, in the West End, The Rocky Horror Show and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Mel Giedroyc, from duo Mel and Sue, is best known as a comedian and TV presenter. She’s appearing at this month’s Edinburgh Fringe in the musical Eurobeat. Helen Baker’s previous credits include Grand Hotel, The New Statesman, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Over My Shoulder. The Jack and the Beanstalk company also comprises Ashley Campbell, Jack Chissick, Steve Furst, Andy Gray, Tony Jawawardena and Shelley Williams.

Finally, on tour, full casting has also been announced for the revival of Seventies rock opera Godspell, led by former Boyzone star Stephen Gately (See News, 12 Jun 2007). Gately, who plays Jesus, is joined in the cast by Paul Ayres, Sharon Cherry Ballard, Tom Bradley, Adrian Daller, Tiffany Graves, Katy-Jo Howman, Yildez Hussain, Lucy Kearans-Hunt and Ryan Molloy.

A modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel According to St Matthew, Godspell begins with John the Baptist gathering up followers and concludes with Jesus' crucifixion in a junkyard. Conceived by then-college student John-Michael Tebelak, the show has music and lyric by Stephen Schwartz, whose subsequent hits include Pippin and, most recently Wicked. Amongst the score’s songs as "Day by Day", "All Good Gifts" and "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".

Godspell first opened Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in May 1971, before clocking up over 2,000 performances on Broadway. Later that year, it opened in the West End in a production that starred David Essex. The musical was adapted for the 1973 film, starring Victor Garber.

The new production is directed by Leicester Haymarket artistic director Paul Kerryson and designed by Kate Unwin. It opens on 24 September 2007 at the Manchester Opera House and then continues on tour, until 1 December, to Llandudno, Darlington, Sunderland, Swansea, Glasgow and Birmingham, with further dates to be announced.

- by Terri Paddock