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Galas: Shrek, West End Eurovision & Ghost CD

The producers of Ghost the Musical, which opens in the West End in June, have teamed up with the charity Stand Up To Cancer to record a fundraising single, which will be released on 22 June 2011 in conjunction with the show’s opening at the Piccadilly Theatre. The song chosen is “With You”, sung by cast members Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy.

Dave Stewart, the former Eurythmics member who wrote the music for the screen-to-stage show, said: “What better mediums than music and the theatre to convey a message, as music lovers and theatregoers contribute to cancer research and offer hope for the millions of people surviving with cancer.

"We can beat this disease but it takes every one of us to get involved. One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes. We have all loved someone who has been touched by cancer. And by supporting Stand Up To Cancer in this way we can help change those odds."

The show, which is adapted from the hit 1990 film which starred Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as lovers torn apart by a violent murder, is currently in previews at Manchester Opera House (until 14 May) and opens at the Piccadilly on 19 July 2011 (previews from 22 June).

Producer Colin Ingram said: "This is the start of a long relationship between Ghost the Musical and Stand Up To Cancer, which aims to raise awareness and funds for the charity. Many of the songs from our show speak about the loss of a loved one and with our composer Dave Stewart as a major creative force on the charity’s team and the leading man of the original film, Patrick Swayze, losing his life to cancer, the partnership between the show and the charity seemed a natural fit."

As well as the single, which will be available to download from www.ghostthemusical.com and from iTunes, there will also be a gala performance of Ghost in aid of the charity in the autumn.

Shrek The Musical, which opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 16 June (previews from 6 May 2011), will hold a Royal Gala performance in the presence of the Prince of Wales on Wednesday 8 June.

Held in support of the Prince's Foundation for Children & the Arts, the gala will be hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive officer of DreamWorks Animation. The cast, creative team and producers of Shrek will also develop a new educational project with the charity that aims to introduce young people to the art of musical theatre and to encourage participation through the musical's run.

Children & the Arts champions the power of the arts to transform and enrich the lives of disadvantaged children across the UK. The charity reaches out to the many children who, through social or economic disadvantage, are denied access to cultural venues and to high-quality arts activity. They have worked with over 100,000 children since 2006 with projects ranging from visual art, music, drama and film to dance, storytelling and poetry.

Shrek has a cast led by Whatsonstage.com Award-winner Nigel Lindsay in the title role with Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, Richard Blackwood as Donkey and Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad. The screen-to-stage adaptation is an irreverent alternative fairy tale about a lonely green ogre, who finds happiness and conquers a fearsome dragon with the help of a wise-cracking donkey and a tough-talking Princess.

Shrek the Musical premiered in December 2008 on Broadway, where it ran for just over a year. The New York production was nominated for eight Tony Awards, Tim Hatley winning for Best Costume Design of a Musical. The West End offering will be based on the revamped US touring production, which launched from Chicago in July 2010. That production continues to tour, having visited 60 US cities.

The Anglo-American creative team is led by directors Jason Moore and Rob Ashford and includes David Lindsay-Abaire (book and lyrics), Jeanine Tesori (music), Tim Hatley (scenic, costume and puppet design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), and Josh Prince (choreography).

Shrek is produced by Neal Street Productions and, in the company’s theatrical debut, the Hollywood studio Dreamworks Animations.

Finally in gala news, Gabby Roslin will host this year's West End Eurovision, an annual competition which sees London shows and theatres competing against each other singing original Eurovision Song Contest songs to win the votes of the audience and a panel of celebrity judges. The event will this year be held at the Piccadilly Theatre on Thursday 21 April from 11.30pm.

Previous productions to be crowned West End Eurovision champions include Wicked (2008), Mamma Mia! (2009) and, last year, Dirty Dancing.

West End shows who are competing this year have been announced as Billy Elliot, Dirty Dancing, Les Miserables, Legally Blonde, Love Never Dies, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, The 39 Steps, Phantom of the Opera, Wizard of Oz, We Will Rock You and Wicked. This year's competition will include a special guest performance by 1981 Eurovision Song Contest winners the Original Bucks Fizz.

West End Eurovision is held in aid of TheatreMAD, the Make A Difference Trust, which brings together the British entertainment community and its audiences to raise funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS, and those in the entertainment industry facing hardship as a result of a long-term medical condition.

Tickets for West End Eurovision can be purchased through Ambassador Ticket or in person at the Piccadilly Theatre box office.


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