Maureen Lipman has joined the cast of Rags the Musical in Concert, the show written by Joseph Stein, Charles Strouse and Stephen Schwartz, which will be presented for one night only on Monday 28 April at London’s Lyric Theatre. All proceeds from the performance go to Centrepoint – the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people.
Lipman is well-known for playing Joyce Grenfell in the biographical show Re: Joyce!, which she co-wrote, and for Beattie, a series of award-winning television commercials for British Telecom. No stranger to the West End, Lipman has starred in the National Theatre’s production of Oklahoma!, the Olivier Award nominated show Glorious!, and in Trevor Nunn’s theatre production of A Little Night Music, to name a few. She appeared in the films Up the Junction, Educating Rita and played the mother in Polanski’s award-winning film The Pianist.
Caroline Sheen (Les Misérables, The Witches of Eastwick, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Grease, Mary Poppins) will take on the role of Rebecca; Graham MacDuff (Spamalot, Carousel, Chicago, Guys and Dolls) plays Nathan; Matt Zimmerman (best-known as the voice of Alan Tracy in Thunderbirds and for his stage work including Fiddler On the Roof and Cabaret) is Avram; Leila Benn Harris (whose portrayal of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera earned her a nomination for Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role) will be Bella; James Yeoburn (Macbeth, Payback) plays Ben; Jenny Logan (renowned for playing Velma Kelly in the first British production of Chicago) is Rachel; Tim Rogers (Whistle Down the Wind, Aspects of Love, The Full Monty) has the role of Saul; and Bash Croft (Oliver!, Matilda) plays David.
Other members of the cast are Amelia Adams-Pearce, Ben Stock, Marc Joseph and Danny Whitehead as well as an ensemble of singers and dancers from the Arts Educational School and an orchestra on stage of 11.
Produced on Broadway in 1986, Rags ran only a short while, but developed a passionate following – as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical, a cast recording, and many subsequent productions across the USA and the UK.
Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie, Applause), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) and Joseph Stein (Fiddler On the Roof, Zorba, Take Me Along) present a musical where America does not live up to the dreams of the immigrants as they fight for labour equality and experience disappointment and tragedy even while finding romance.
A young Russian mother, arriving in America in 1910 with her son, is forced to work in a sweatshop while she searches for her husband. Her joy when she finds him, however, soon turns to anguish as she discovers that he has rejected much of his ethnic culture, changing his name and distancing himself from the Jewish community. Together, they must try to find a way to reconcile their differences and embrace their new life.
The score of Rags has a multicultural element with a strong jazz and ragtime style and influences from Klesmer, Irish folk, American honky-tonk, Greek and Middle Eastern music.
Directing the concert is Bronagh Lagan who is joined by musical director Caroline Humphris, assistant musical director Matt Ramplin and choreographer Grant Murphy.
Presented by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe, Rags the Musical in Concert is produced by Aria Entertainment and Knockhardy Productions whose previous West End charity concerts include Children of Eden at the Prince of Wales Theatre and Cinderella Boom or Bust at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
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