Double Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding - who is best known for her musical performances in My Fair Lady, The Witches of Eastwick, Carousel and Me and My Girl - continues her stint of straight plays this autumn as she heads to Salisbury to take the lead in the UK professional premiere of Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time. The new production runs from 10 to 26 November 2005 at Salisbury Playhouse, before transferring to Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from 29 November to 3 December 2005.

Since finishing her highly acclaimed run as Eliza Doolittle in the National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, for which she won the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical, Riding has turned her attention to plays. In summer 2003 she starred as Maggie opposite Cold Feet's John Thomson in Harold Brighouse's 1915 play Hobson's Choice, at Manchester’s Royal Exchange. She returned to Manchester in December 2003 to play Miss Gossage in a revival of John Dighton's The Happiest Days of Your Life.

Riding was seen in the West End earlier this year as Ruth Condomine in a revival of Noel Coward comedy Blithe Spirit, for which she was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com award. Blithe Spirit played at Bath as part of the Peter Hall summer repertory season, prior to a regional tour and a transfer to the Savoy, where it ran from November 2004 to May 2005.

In Playing for Time, Riding will be putting her musical talents to good use as she’ll be singing and playing the piano on stage in the story about an orchestra in Auschwitz. Miller’s play is based on the novel by Holocaust survivor Fania Fenelon, who was recruited to the orchestra. In the original 1980 film version, Vanessa Redgrave played Fenelon, the part taken in the UK stage version by Riding.

Riding is joined in the cast of 24 actor-musicians by Jess Murphy, Fiona Johnson, Charlotte Roach, Fiona Bruce, Hannah Bourne, Karen Fisher–Pollard, Rosalie Craig, Helen Kirkpatrick, Kate Lynn Hocking and Luisa Prosser. The new production is directed by Playhouse artistic director Joanna Read and designed by Su Houser with lighting by Paul Anderson and musical direction by John Owen-Edwards.

- by Caroline Ansdell