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Galas: Maria Friedman’s Xmas, Flaunt It & My Girl

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Maria Friedman (pictured) will return to the West End for one night only to headline this year’s instalment of Christmas in New York, the third annual celebration of classic carols and seasonal show-stoppers, at the West End’s Lyric Theatre on Sunday 7 December 2008.

Other West End stars confirmed to appear alongside Friedman are Avenue Q’s Julie Atherton, Wicked’s Oliver Tompsett and Ashleigh Gray, Spamalot’s Michael Xavier and a full supporting cast including Adrian Hansel, Zoe Rainey, Richard Reynard and Lorna Want. The evening comprises contemporary interpretations of well-known seasonal songs as well as new compositions by both British and American musical theatre composers.

Maria Friedman is a three-time Laurence Olivier Award winner: for Ragtime, Passion and By Special Arrangement. She also won Best Actress in a Musical in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for her last West End outing, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, which she also starred in on Broadway.

Friedman’s other musical credits Chicago, Lady in the Dark and Sunday in the Park with George and, reopening the Royal Festival Hall last year, Sweeney Todd, in which she played Mrs Lovett opposite Welsh tenor Bryn Terfel’s demon barber. She has also had three concert seasons at the Café Carlyle in New York. Earlier this year she presented her latest concert show, Maria Friedman: Re-Arranged at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

In other gala news, Flaunt It - a night of gender-swapping show tunes held in aid of our upcoming Whatsonstage.com Awards-adopted charity, Theatre Making a Difference (TheatreMAD), which raises money and awareness to help people affected by HIV and AIDS – returns for a second year, for one night only at the Fortune Theatre (home of The Woman in Black) on 30 October 2008.

Flaunt It follows one simple rule: boys sing girls songs and girls sing boys songs. On the roll call of West End stars due to appear this year are: Desmond Barrit, Daniel Boys, Earl Carpenter, Anna-Jane Casey, Shaun Escoffery, Josefina Gabrielle, Louise Gold, Simon Green, Sophia Ragavelas and Jon Robyns. For further details and tickets, call 0870 060 6626or visit www.theatremad.org.uk.

And finally, and firstly, this weekend sees a one-off Showtime Challenge performance of Noel Gay and Arthur Rose’s classic 1937 British musical Me and My Girl at the London Palladium, held in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust, the UK’s most successful bone marrow register. The entire performance – by amateurs working together with professionals – is rehearsed in just 28 hours.

Cockney bloke Bill discover he’s heir to a fortune. But would he rather have a life of luxury than live happily ever after with his girl Sally? In 1985 Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson famously played the couple in a multi award-winning revival, updated by Stephen Fry and Mike Okrent, at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre. The production played for more than eight years in London and three years on Broadway. The score includes “Lambeth Walk”, “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” and the title song.

- by Terri Paddock


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