Collins, who came to the square in 1988 and played Cindy Beale on the soap for a decade, left Eastenders over 12 years ago. She has since has appeared in numerous television programmes including Hotel Babylon, French & Saunders and Dr Who. Collins' stage appearances include Rattle of the Simple Man at the Comedy Theatre in 2004 and Daddy Cool at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2006.
The new cast, which is the fourth for the touring juggernaut, will also star Lynda Bellingham (Chris – Miss October), one of the original production cast and recent contestant on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing; Jan Harvey (Annie – Miss February), who is most famous as the star of Howard’s Way; comedienne Brenda Gilhooly (Celia – Miss September), Debbie Chazen (Ruth – Miss November), veteran television actress June Watson (Jessie – Miss January); Ruth Madoc (Marie), known nationally as Gladys Pugh of Hi-De-Hi! and Mikyla Dodd (Elaine), best known for her role as Chloe in Channel 4's Hollyoaks. Michael Peluso - Lynda Bellingham's son - will play photographer Lawrence.
Having opened in Stoke, Calendar Girls tours to Woking, Cambridge, Wimbledon, Oxford, Southampton, Northampton and Aylesbury, completing its run in Brighton on 11 December 2010.
Tim Firth’s adaptation of Calendar Girls tells the real-life story of the members of a Yorkshire chapter of the Women’s Institute who decide to pose nude for a charity calendar. Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, Penelope Wilton and Celia Imrie starred in the 2003 screen original, also written by Firth.
The production is directed by Hamish McColl, who won an Olivier Award for writing and performing The Play What I Wrote at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2002. It has a set by Robert Jones, with lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, costumes by Emma Williams and music by Steve Parry.
Also in play casting news, following its run last September, Punk Rock returns to open the autumn season at the Lyric Hammersmith for a limited two-week run from 8 September 2010 (previews from 6 September) before commencing a nine-week national tour.
Drawing on his own experiences as a teacher, Olivier award-winning playwright Simon Stephens’ play follows a group of educated and articulate young people in their final year together at an English grammar school. Punk Rock gradually exposes the dislocation and latent violence simmering under the surface of success, resulting in a shocking and explosive finale.
Last September's production was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play whilst Tom Sturridge was nominated for London Newcomer of the Year in the role of William Carlisle. A co-production between the Lyric Hammersmith and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, the play is directed by the Royal Exchange's joint artistic director, Sarah Frankcom.
Punk Rock will tour from 21 September, opening in Sheffield before travelling to Edinburgh, Birmingham, Eastbourne, Salisbury, Plymouth, Oxford and Leicester, finishing its run in Warwick on 20 November 2010.
The full cast of the revival were today (23 August 2010) announced as: Rupert Simonian (William), who recently appeared in Stephen's A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky in the Lyric Hammersmith's 2009 season; Nicholas Banks (Nicholas Chatman) who was a member of the original Punk Rock cast; Katie West (Tanya Gleason) and Simon Wolfe (Dr Richard Harvey), Laura Pyper (Lilly Cahill) who will be known to viewers of Sky 1’s Hex and the BBC adaptation of Emma and Ed Franklin (Bennett Francis), winner of the Spotlight Prize for Outstanding Performance in 2009. Mike Noble (Chadwick Meade) and Ruth Milne (Cissy Franks) make their professional stage debuts.