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Musicals Extend: Night Music, Priscilla & WWRY

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Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 Broadway classic A Little Night Music has extended its West End season by six weeks at the Garrick Theatre, where it will now have its final performance on 5 September 2009 ahead of a possible Broadway transfer later this year.

First seen last December at the 150-seat Chocolate Factory in Southwark, where it had a sell-out run, the production transferred to the 650-seat Garrick last month, opening on 7 April (previews from 28 March) and originally booking to 25 July only (See 1st Night Photos, 8 Apr 2009).

Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 Swedish film and written largely in waltz time, A Little Night Music concerns the tangled romantic lives of several couples in Sweden at the turn of the 20th century. The score includes the Grammy Award-winning ballad “Send in the Clowns”.

The cast features Hannah Waddingham (as Desiree Armfeldt), Alexander Hanson (Fredrik Egerman), Maureen Lipman (Madame Armfeldt), I’d Do Anything contestant Jessie Buckley (Anne Egerman), Kelly Price (Countess Charlotte Malcolm), Gabriel Vick and Kaisa Hammarlund along with John Addison, Florence Andrews, Laura Armstrong, Lynden Edwards, Jeremy Finch, Holly Hallam, Charlotte Page, Nicola Sloane, Alistair Robins, Grace Link, Sian Howard-Jones and Ben Fleetwood Smyth.

A Little Night Music has musical supervision by Caroline Humphris, set and costume design by David Farley, orchestrations by Jason Carr, lighting by Hartley T A Kemp and sound by Gareth Owen. It’s produced in the West End by David Babani for Chocolate Factory Productions, Andrew Fell and Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres.

Also currently in the West End care of the Chocolate Factory is Terry Johnson’s multi award-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre, now starring Roger Allam and Philip Quast. The current productions follow transfers of Fully Committed, Little Shop of Horrors, Dealer’s Choice, Maria Friedman: Re-Arranged and, the venue’s most successful production to date, fellow Sondheim revival, Sunday in the Park with George, which also won five Olivier Awards and transferred to Broadway after the West End.

Other West End musicals that have recently extended include:

At the Palace Theatre, the European premiere of Australian import Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical, starring Jason Donovan, has added five months to its booking period. Opened in the West End on 23 March 2009 (previews from 10 March) and originally booking through to 26 September 2009, it has now extended to 13 February 2010.

Adapted from the 1994 Oscar-winning cult Australian film starring Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp, Priscilla follows Sydney drag queen Mitzi (aka Tick) and her two fish-out-of-water friends, Felicia (Adam) and transsexual Bernardette, as they head west across the desert to Alice Springs in their battered old bus. They are each on their own personal journey of discovery, but together they put on a show unlike anything the locals have ever seen before.

Like the film, the musical is fashioned around disco hits including "I Love the Nightlife," "I Will Survive", “Shake Your Groove Thing” and "Finally". It’s directed by Simon Phillips, designed by Brian Thomson, choreography by Ross Coleman, and costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical stars Australians Jason Donovan (Mitzi/Tick) and Tony Sheldon (Bernadette), who reprises his award-winning performance from the original production, and Brits Clive Carter (Bob) and Oliver Thornton (Felicia/Adam).

And, at the Dominion Theatre, We Will Rock You has added another five months to its schedule and is now taking bookings through to March 2010 after last week celebrating its seventh birthday at the Dominion, where it opened on 14 May 2002 (previews from 26 April).

Set in the future, We Will Rock You tells the story of a world in which globalisation has meant the death of real music in favour of computer-produced cyber stars, a status quo which the rebel Bohemians, harking back to the Golden Age of rock (embodied by Queen), are trying to overthrow so that they can write and perform their own music. An unintentional hero ends up saving the kids of Planet Mall from the tyrannical Killer Queen and discovers the place of living rock.

We Will Rock You has a book by Ben Elton and features 32 of Queen’s greatest hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Under Pressure", "Radio Gaga" and, of course, "We Will Rock You". It’s directed by Elton, choreographed by Arlene Phillips and designed by Mark Fisher and Willie Williams. The current cast is led by Ricardo Afonso (as Galileo), Sabrina Aloueche (Scaramouche), Mazz Murray (Killer Queen) and another I’d Do Anything contestant, Rachel Tucker (Meat).

- by Terri Paddock


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