New casting has now been announced for the London production of Chicago, which is currently running at the West End’s Cambridge Theatre, booking until 27 July 2008.

On 5 November, Frances Ruffelle will return to the production to star as Roxie Hart, along with Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, Terence Maynard as Billy Flynn, Paul Rider as Amos Hart. They will perform in the roles for a limited five-week run finishing on 8 December. Joining them will be Sue Kelvin as Mama Morton. This announcement follows the extension of Kelly Osbourne’s run in Chicago as Mama Morton (See News, 23 Aug 2007), a role which she’ll continue to play until 3 November when the new cast comes in.

The current revival of Chicago opened at the Cambridge Theatre (where the musical’s original London production ran for 603 performances from April 1979) on 28 April 2006, after eight-and-a-half years at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. It won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production as well as the 1998 Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical.

Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The current stage revival, which transferred from Broadway, is directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by John Lee Beatty, with choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse.


In other musical casting news, The Wedding Singer, the 2006 Broadway musical based on the 1998 romantic film comedy of the same name, has announced the two leads for its premiere UK tour, opening in Manchester on 18 February 2008.

Television actor and friend of Robbie Williams, Jonathan Wilkes will appear as wannabe rock star Robbie Hart alongside Natalie Casey’s waitress, Julia. Wilkes has previously appeared in UK tours of Guys and Dolls, Tommy, Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show whilst Casey has just finished performing in the West End in Fame and is well known from television’s Two Pints of Lager (and a Packet of Crisps).

After being left at the altar, wannabe rock star Robbie – who makes his living as the wedding singer for hire of the title – succeeds in making every wedding as miserable as his own. Then he meets a sweet waitress named Julia, who attempts to cheer him up, and steals his heart in the process. The only trouble is, she’s about to be married. Can Robbie pull off the performance of the decade and win the girl of his dreams?

Set in the Eighties, the 1998 film starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore and featured a soundtrack of pop classics from the period. The stage show has a book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy based on the screenplay, music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Songs include “Somebody Kill Me”, “Casualty of Love”, “Come Out of the Dumpster”, “Single”, “Move That Thang” and “Grow Old With You”, which Sandler sang in the film.

The musical had its Broadway premiere in April 2006 at New York’s Al Hirschfeld Theater, where it ran for ten months and was nominated for five Tony Awards. That production was directed by John Rando, designed by Scott Pask and choreographed by Rob Ashford. This production of the The Wedding Singer will be directed by Karen Bruce with the tour travelling to Plymouth, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh ahead of further dates in 2008. A West End transfer is planned.

For further reporting on The Wedding Singer’s run at the Palace Theatre, visit Whatsonstage.com Manchester.

- by Tom Atkins