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Cast: Spring Awakening Stars, Atherton Back on Q

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Three newcomers will star in the UK premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Spring Awakening, which runs at west London’s Lyric Hammersmith from 3 to 28 February 2009 (previews from 23 January), care of the original New York creative team (See News, 19 May 2008).

The alt-rock musical, which has music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on the Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name about sexual discovery. Set in 19th-century Germany, the story centres on brilliant student Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful girl on the verge of womanhood.

Charlotte Wakefield (who plays Wendla), Iwan Rheon (Moritz) and Aneurin Barnard (Melchior) - the latter two recent graduates of LAMDA and the royal Welsh College of Music and Drama respectively – will all make their professional London stage debuts in the production.

The full cast is comprised of 16- to 24-year-olds from throughout the UK, found via a year-long casting search and a series of workshops. Also in the company are: Lucy Barker, Natasha Barnes, Chris Barton, Jamie Blackley, Hayley Gallivan, Natalie Garner, Mona Goodwin, Evelyn Hoskins, Edd Judge, Harry McEntire, Jamie Muscato, Gemma O’Duffy, Jos Slovick and Richard Southgate. The actors playing the adult roles will be announced shortly.

Left-right: Iwan Rheon, Aneurin Barnard and Charlotte Wakefield.

Spring Awakening premiered at New York’s Atlantic Theater Company in May 2006 and transferred that December to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it finishes its run in January. The Broadway production won eight trophies, including Best Musical, at last year’s Tony Awards (See News, 11 Jun 2007). The musical is directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Bill T Jones.

In other musical casting news, original cast member Julie Atherton will return for the final months of Avenue Q, which celebrated its 1,000th performance last night (See Today’s Photos), and announced last week (See News, 17 Oct 2008), that it will be closing on 28 March 2009 after nearly three years at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre. The

From 1 December 2008, Atherton will step back into the roles of Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, at the same time Joanna Ampil (Miss Saigon) joins the cast as Christmas Eve and ensemble member Rachel Jerram moves up into the roles of Mrs T/Bear. Current stars Daniel Boys (of Any Dream Will Do renown), Edward Baruwa, Mark Goldthorp and Christopher Fry continue with the run.

A cast of seven – three of them playing humans, the rest manipulating multiple puppets that include a closet gay puppet called Rod, a porn-addicted puppet called Trekkie Monster, and a puppet looking for love called Kate Monster – tell the characters’ tales of love and hardship on the downtown street.

Avenue Q, which opened in London on 28 June 2006 (previews from 1 June), has a score by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and a book by Jeff Whitty, with puppets conceived and designed by Rick Lyon, musical supervision by Stephen Oremus, and choreography by Ken Roberson. Amongst the London show’s accolades, it won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Ensemble Performance.

- by Terri Paddock


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