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McGowan's Noël & Salad Days for Riverside Xmas

The Riverside Studio looks set for a Christmas chalked full of musical theatre nostalgia, with productions of Noel Coward tribute Sincerely Noel and Slade and Reynolds revival Salad Days running through the festival season.

Impressionist Alistair McGowan will take to the stage of the studio's with musical actress Charlotte Page, bringing the songs and poems of Noël Coward to life in Sincerely Noel which runs from 9 December (previews from 7 December) until 23 December 2010.

The show, an adapted version of the pair’s 2009 Edinburgh Fringe outing Cocktails with Coward, brings to life a personal selection of songs and poems written by Coward. McGowan fell in love with Coward's work when directing students at his old college, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in a production of Coward's rarely-performed Semi-Monde. He was determined to bring these often little-known works to greater prominence.

Directed by Brendan O'Hea and with new musical arrangements by Warren WillsSincerely Noel will see the pair present songs including "Mad About The Boy", "Never Again" and "Alice Is At It Again" as well as dramatised poems such as Honeymoon 1905 in which two newly-weds head to Ilfracombe in fear of their marriage night and Social Grace in which Coward encountered a hilariously over-enthusiastic fan.

Alistair McGowan is best known for his BBC TV show The Big Impression and has also appeared on stage in the West End, compering Rufus Norris' Cabaret. He received a Olivier nomination for his role the dentist in the 2004 revival of Little Shop of Horrors. Page is known as one of the UK's foremost Gilbert and Sullivan sopranos, but has also been called "the best unfamous Christine" for her performance in Phantom of the Opera.

Full casting has also been announced for Tête à Tête's production of Salad Days which run at the Riverside Studios from 14 December (previews from 9 December 2010) until 6 February 2011. Rebecca Caine, who created the role of Cosette in the RSC’s production of Les Miserables, will join the cast as Lady Raeburn.

The eight-strong musical was devised in 1954 for the Bristol Old Vic during a tight financial squeeze, later transferring to London and becoming one of the West End's longest running musicals. Directed by Tête à Tête founder and artistic director Bill Bankes-Jones, the show features a number of comic set pieces and songs such as "Oh Look at Me, I'm Dancing", "It's Easy to Sing" and "We're Looking for a Piano".

Set in an optimistic and often absurd 1954, Salad Days tells the story of Timothy and Jane, two recent university graduates. Timothy's family send him off to meet a series of influential and increasingly eccentric uncles with the hope of him finding a job, whilst Jane's mother lines up a series of eligible but dull potential husbands. The tie the couple formed at university is so strong that they arrange to marry secretly, and at the same time meet a tramp with a magic piano that makes everyone dance whenever it's played.

Caine, who created the role of Cosette in the RSC’s original production of Les Miserables, has been seen in a number of West End productions including Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady and Oklahoma!. She is joined in the cast by Tony Timberlake (Hairspray, Spamalot, Les Miserables), Mark Inscoe (Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, La Cage Aux Folles, Whistle Down The Wind), Sam Harrison (Avenue Q) and Katie Moore.

Salad Days is designed by Tim Meacock and has lighting design by Mark Doubleday. The show is choreographed by Quinny Sacks with musical direction by Anthony Ingle.


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