From Page to Stage season – West End performers onboard

From Page To StageAria Entertainment has announced first casting for the second annual From Page to Stage festival, a season of new musical theatre at the Landor Theatre from 10 February–9 March 2014 – West End names onboard include Jon Robyns, Niamh Perry, Jodie Jacobs, Kim Criswell, Sophia Ragavelas and David Burt.

Full casting is now confirmed for the season’s three showcase readings of Merman’s Apprentice, Claus the Musical and The Return of the Soldier, as well as the repertory cast for three showcase nights of musicals in development. Final casting for the two headline musicals, Before the Night is Through and The Mistress Cycle will be announced soon.

Merman’s Apprentice (11 and 12 February) is a new musical with book and lyrics by Stephen Cole and music by David Evans. The show is directed by Stewart Nicholls with musical direction by Richard Healey.

Cast: West End and Broadway actress Kim Criswell will play Ethel Merman. Criswell spent many years on Broadway (Baby, Nine, The Threepenny Opera) and in LA (Cats), before crossing the Atlantic in 1992 when she was invited to play the title role in Annie Get Your Gun. The cast also features Olivia Hallett, John Guerrasio, Nigel Richards, David Burt, Elizabeth Seal (Tony Award Winner, Irma La Douce), Ted Merwood, Ben Stock, Daniel Cane, Thomas Sutcliffe, Lindsey Nicholls and Kimberley Moses.

Mermans ApprenticeSynopsis: 1970. The Golden Age of Musical Theatre is drawing to an end, but 12-year-old Muriel Plakenstein doesn’t know that. So she runs away from home to become a Broadway star, and meets the Queen of Broadway Ethel Merman, who takes her to a Hello, Dolly! rehearsal where they sing together. When legendary producer David Merrick hears the kid, he decides to star Muriel in the first all-child cast of Dolly! Naturally, Merman takes her under her wing to teach the youngster the ropes of being a star, making little Muriel Plakenstein Merman’s Apprentice.

Claus the Musical (14 and 15 February) is a new musical with book by Simon Warne and music and lyrics by Andy Collyer, based on The Life and Adventures Of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum. The show is directed by Kate Golledge with musical direction by Matt Ramplin.

Cast: Gary Albert Hughes, Joseph Houston, Jonathan Bourne, Adam Anderson, Paul Lincoln, Kara Lane, Sophie Caton, Kirsty Marie Ayers, Kate Hume and Sasha Latoya.

Claus The MusicalSynopsis: How the Boy became a Man. How the Man became a Legend. Claus tells the incredible story of a human child brought up by immortals in a magical forest. But when Claus discovers there’s a whole world outside of the forest, inhabited by humans like him, his life takes a different path.

The Return of the Soldier (28 February and 1 March), a new musical with book and lyrics by Tim Sanders and music by Charles Miller.

Cast: Gary Tushaw, Sinead Wall, Sophia Ragavelas (Never Forget, Les Miserables), Jennifer Harraghy and Jonathan Leinmuller. The show is directed by Susan Raasay with musical direction by Neil MacDonald.

Synopsis: Coinciding with the centenary of the First World War, The Return of the Soldier is a new musical adaptation of Rebecca West’s 1918 novella of the home front. An intensely bitter-sweet tale dissects the very different love of three women for one man. When Christopher returns from the war, shell-shocked, there are profound consequences for each of them.

Showcase Nights: Three Musicals in Development (25 –27 February). The showcases are directed by Simon Greiff with musical direction by Inga Davis-Rutter.

These scratch nights will present 30-minute excerpts of three new musicals in development, performed by a repertory company of West End actors including Niamh Perry (Love Never Dies, Taboo), Jon Robyns (Avenue Q, Les Miserables, Spamalot), Helen Hobson (Mamma Mia!, Blood Brothers), Matthew Rixon, Jodie Jacobs (Rock of Ages, Evita), Ashleigh Gray (Wicked), Jonathan Eio and Tom Solomon (Chicago, Phantom of the Opera).

From Page to Stage is a season of new musical theatre dedicated to the showcasing of work in development to an audience, to garner feedback and create new opportunities for the artists involved. The 2014 season was selected from an open application process which saw 120 musicals submitted, and presents a mixed programme of work at various stages of development from rehearsed readings to fully staged productions, as well as a selection of platform events aimed at inspiring discussion about the future of musical theatre on a local, national and international level. Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, From Page to Stage has also been awarded an Arts Council grant to support the 2014 programme of work.


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