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Musicals Cast: Full London Tenor, Top Hat Tour

Full casting has been announced for Lend Me a Tenor The Musical which opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 15 June 2011 (previews from 2 June) and, as previously reported, brings with it Matthew Kelly, Damian Humbley, Michael Matus and Sophie-Louise Dann from last year's Theatre Royal Plymouth try-out.

Two-time Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding stars as Maria Marelli, staying at the Gielgud where she is currently appearing in Umbrellas of Cherbourg. She is joined in the cast by Cassidy Janson, Gay Soper, Jane Quinn and Michelle Bishop.

The company will also feature: Jemma Alexander, Karen Aspinall, Natasha J Barnes, Nick Butcher, Kelly Chinery, Sharon Eckman, Daniel Farrow, Andrew Keelan, Kara Lane, Connor McAllister, Haydn Oakley, Stephen Oliver-Webb, Ryan Pidgen, Jeremy Secomb, Emma Sewell, John Stacey, Robert Traynor and Michelle White.

Nominated for Best Regional Production in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Awards for its Plymouth run, Lend Me a Tenor is directed by former Open Air Theatre artistic director Ian Talbot.

Set in 1934, the muscial revolves around renowned tenor Tito Merelli, known as "Il Stupendo", as he prepares to perform his greatest role, Otello. Things go wrong at the final dress rehearsal though, as a case of mistaken identity, double entendres and innuendoes threaten to ruin the show. When Tito is incapacitated, the director’s meek assistant Max is given the daunting task of finding a last-minute replacement.

The show has book and lyrics by Peter Sham, with music by Brad Carroll. The production has musical supervision by Paul Gemignani, musical direction by Colin Billing, choreography by Randy Skinner, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Tim Mitchell, sound by Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster and orchestrations by Chris Walker.

Lend Me a Tenor is produced by Martin Platt and David Elliott, in association with Eileen and Allen Anes.

In other muscials news, Martin Ball, Vivien Parry, Ricardo Afonso and Stephen Boswell will join the previously announced Summer Strallen and Tom Chambers in Irving Berlin's Top Hat. The musical launches a 17-week UK tour from Milton Keynes on 16 August 2011 with hopes of transferring to the West End in spring 2012.

Directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer, the show sees classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Top Hat brought to the stage 76 years after its movie release.

The show will open in Milton Keynes in August and tour to to Birmingham, Southampton, Salford, Plymouth, Norwich, Canterbury, Edinburgh and Leeds - with plans to come to London later in 2012.

The 1935 film centres on American dancer Jerry Travers (Astaire) who is working for bumbling producer Horace Hardwick in London. When Jerry practices his new dance routine late one night in Horace's hotel, it wakes the sleeping Dale Tremont (Rogers) below. When she goes upstairs to complain, the two are immediately attracted to each other, but complications arise when Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, who is married to her friend.

The musical will include numbers from the film - including “Cheek to Cheek” and “Top Hat” as well as other Berlin numbers selected by the creative team.

Martin Ball is currently playing the role of Thenardier in Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre. His other West End credits include Wicked and Mamma Mia!. Vivien Parry has most recently been seen on stage in Shakespeare’s Will and Great Expectations at Theatr Clwyd. Ricardo Afonso is currently starring as Galileo in We Will Rock You. He has also been seen in the UK tour of Strictly Come Dancing - The Professionals and has appeared twice in The Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall. Stephen Boswell was seen on stage earlier this year in Double Falsehood at the Union Theatre. His other theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at the Liverpool Playhouse.

Top Hat is presented by arrangement with RKO Pictures LLC, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures Inc. and the Irving Berlin Music Company. It is produced by Kenny Wax and partners Lee Menzies, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley.

Finally in musical casting news, Ava Brennan has made her West End debut in The Lion King. Brennan plays the role of Nala and joins the musical from the show's Hamburg production.

Originally from Bootle in Liverpool she has appeared in European productions of Oklahoma! Aida, The Count of Monte Cristo and Hairspray.

The Disney screen-to-stage adaptation opened on 19 October 1999 (previews from 24 September). The current company features Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa, George Asprey as Scar and Andile Gumbi as Simba.

Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation opened first on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production. The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film and new songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.


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