As Grease celebrates its 1000th performance at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre tonight (16 December 2009), the show’s producers have announced a new cast which, from 25 January 2010, will see How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? semi-finalist Siobhan Dillon returning to the musical, promoted from the supporting role of cheerleader Patty Simcox to leading lady Sandy (See News, 24 May 2007).

Dillon will star opposite Hear’Say’s Noel Sullivan, who made his West End debut last month in Grease and continues in the role of Danny Zuko (See News, 20 Oct 2009). The new 2010 ‘class’ will also include: Matthew Goodgame (as Kenickie), Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (Rizzo), Lucas Rush (Roger), Hayley Gallivan (Jan), Benjamin Ibbott (Doody), Faye Brookes (Frenchy), Bennett Andrews (Sonny), Robyn Mellor (Marty), Michael Vinsen (Eugene), Susannah Allman (Patty), Jason Capewell (Vince/Teen Angel), Kerry Winter (Miss Lynch) and Stephanie Powell (Cha Cha).

After How Do You Solve a Problems Like Maria? in 2006, Dillon co-wrote and recorded her debut album. She made her West End debut as Patty when the current West End season of Grease opened in August 2007. She has followed that with starring roles on tour in Can’t Smile Without You and Cabaret.

While now most famous from the 1979 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Grease began on stage, premiering on Broadway in 1972. The musical originally ran for six years in the West End, first at the Dominion and then at the Cambridge Theatre, returning to London for a short run back at the Dominion in 2001 and at the Victoria Palace in 2002/3. In between, it has toured the UK extensively.

Grease has book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It’s now-famous songs include “Summer Nights”, “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”, “We Go Together”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, “Beauty School Dropout”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “Greased Lightnin’” and “Grease Is the Word”.


In other musical casting news:

  • Linzi Hateley returns this week to the role of Donna Sheridan in Abba blockbuster Mamma Mia!, which has extended its booking through to 1 February 2011 at the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre. Hateley is joined by Jessie May as her daughter Sophie. The current cast also features Katy Secombe (as Rosie), Jane Gurnett (Tanya), Norman Bowman (Sam), Paul Ryan (Harry), Christopher Hollis (Bill) and Oliver Hembrough (Sky). The musical, which has an original book by Catherine Johnson fashioned around 22 Abba hits, celebrated its 10th birthday in the West End this past April. In this year’s tenth annual Whatsonstage.com Awards, it’s been nominated for the new birthday category, Best West End Show (click here to vote!).
  • Still more guest stars have been announced for Sandi Toksvig's Christmas Cracker, which is now at the Royal Festival Hall until Christmas Eve, 24 December (See News, 3 Dec 2009). Sara Cox, Dick & Dom, Jeremy Hardy, Sara Kestelman, Miriam Margolyes, Roger Lloyd Pack, Sue Perkins and June Whitfield will alternate in the part of Cratchit, with Rob Brydon, Roger Lloyd Pack, Nicholas Parsons and Tim Pigott-Smith alternating as Scrooge, and new guests vocalists Sharon D Clarke and Frances Ruffelle. They’re in addition to names already announced: Maria Friedman, Sarah Connolly, Denise Van Outen, Barb Jungr and Clive Rowe as guest vocalists; Stephen Mangan, John Humphrys, Fiona Shaw, Jon Snow, Pete Firman and Lionel Blair; as well as Five Guys Named Moe and Choirs Voicelab, London Gay Men’s Chorus, Diversity and conjurer Pete Firman. The family variety show is written by Toksvig, who co-stars with Ronnie Corbett.
  • Finally, in a festive one-off, Whatsonstage.com Award nominee Jessie Buckley (A Little Night Music), David Bedella, Caroline Sheen and Tim Rice guest star tomorrow (17 December) in The Cantabile Christmas Cracker, which is at the Prince of Wales as part of the LIVE IN THE DELFONT ROOM series of late-night cabarets, presented in association with Whatsonstage.com (See News, 15 Dec 2009).