When Broadway spoof musical Disaster! debuts in London next month with two gala concert performances at the Charing Cross Theatre, its creator Seth Rudetsky will be joined by actress Jennifer Simard, re-creating her Tony nominated role as the gambling addicted nun Sister Mary Downy.
The show, which takes its inspiration from the star-studded disaster movie genre which dominated cinema screens in the 1970s, is written by Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick who also directs. The London performances of the show which ended its Broadway run in the summer will raise funds for The Make A Difference Trust.
Simard, who recently won a role in the cast of next year’s eagerly anticipated Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce, will make her London debut in the show.
Commenting on Simard’s outrageous character Rudetsky said: “The Nun in Disaster! is a character who is torn; she desperately wants to do good but she doesn’t know how. Then she finds herself in a casino and we all find out her secret – she’s a gambling addict! A gambling addict who also happens to have an incredibly high belt and amazing comic timing. Jack and I wrote a character with some funny laugh lines but Jennifer Simard has perfected the art of making every line she says brilliant.
“She took moments that had literally no humour in them, they were purely expositional, and she made them bring down the house… We’re obsessed! Her performance of ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ was one of my favourite moments on Broadway because not only did I love it, but the cast would stand in the wings and watch her every night. We were all obsessed with her ‘dance ’moves, bizarre line readings and amazing high notes.
“Jack and I started doing sketch comedy with Jennifer in a little, tiny cabaret back in 1993. And now we’re all going to London together doing a big benefit on the West End! And she’s going to get to play the role that got her a Tony nomination. We are so crazily happy and excited.”
Simard, whose credits also include Sister Act, Shrek The Musical and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee added: “I am thrilled to make my London debut and eat my weight in Marmite.”
An as yet unconfirmed cast of West End stars and UK musical theatre performers will appear alongside Simard and Rudetsky in the shows on 20 November at 4pm and 7.30pm.
Set in 1979, Disaster! gathers together a group of New York’s hottest A-listers at the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship is hit by multiple disasters, including earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos and even an attack by killer rats. The jukebox style music consists of 1970s dancefloor hits including ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Knock On Wood’, ‘Hooked On a Feeling’, ‘Sky High’, ‘I Am Woman’ and ‘Hot Stuff’.
The Charing Cross shows are presented by Theatre MAD and Making Productions.