The full cast has been announced for Strictly Ballroom the Musical, with an international company coming together ahead of the first UK staging of the show, which is to premiere on Wednesday 30 November at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (press night is Tuesday 6 December).
Gemma Sutton, who starred in the hugely-acclaimed production of Gypsy and is currently in The Go-Between in the West End, will play opposite Sam Lips, who has starred on Broadway in Pippin and Wicked and now makes his UK debut. They will take the iconic lead roles of Fran and Scott.
Starring alongside them will be Tamsin Carroll (whose credits include the recent production of Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse), Stephen Matthews (The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse), Julius D’Silva (Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre; Oliver! Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Richard Grieve (Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, Palace Theatre and UK tour, as well as starring in both Home & Away and Neighbours), Eve Polycarpou (In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre) and Charlotte Gooch (Dirty Dancing, Piccadilly Theatre and Top Hat, Aldwych Theatre).
The full cast is: Scott (Sam Lips), Fran (Gemma Sutton), Shirley (Tamsin Carroll), Doug (Stephen Matthews), Barry (Julius D’Silva), Les (Richard Grieve), Abuela (Eve Polycarpou), Tina (Charlotte Gooch), Liz (Lauren Stroud), Vanessa (Jade Albertsen), Wayne (Liam Marcellino), Ken (Gary Watson), Pam (Michelle Bishop), JJ/Merv (Richard Dempsey) and Terry/Clarry (Zak Nemorin).
The cast is completed by Courtney-Mae Briggs, Javier Cid, Selina Hamilton, Luke Jackson, Rebecca Lisewiki, Lindsay McAllister, Freya Rowley, Javier Santo, Alexzandra Sarmiento and Dale White.
Drew McOnie (whose choreography for In The Heights has just earned him the 2016 Olivier Award) will direct and choreograph the production, which is based on the original Australian musical created by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. Terry Johnson joins the creative team to adapt the original book.
Drew McOnie said: “I am incredibly excited about the dynamic and diverse company we have carefully put together to create Strictly Ballroom. Our international company is hugely talented and I can’t wait to introduce them to audiences.”
Strictly Ballroom the Musical is the inspiring story of a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. It features break-into-song numbers such as ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’ and ‘Time After Time’, as well as several new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.
The show is a co-production by Global Creatures (the team behind Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, How To Train Your Dragon and King Kong) and West Yorkshire Playhouse, who most recently co-produced James Brining’s critically acclaimed production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, currently on a major year-long tour of the UK and Ireland.
Strictly Ballroom the Musical made its world premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre in April 2014, followed by seasons in Melbourne and Brisbane in 2015.
The piece originated as a stage play that Baz Luhrmann devised with a group of students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney, Australia, in 1984. The film was discovered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was the winner of the Prix de Jeunnesse and runner up for the Palme D’Or. When released in Australia, Strictly Ballroom swept the field at the 1992 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, gaining 13 nominations and winning in eight major categories. It also won three awards at the 1993 BAFTA awards, received a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, and eventually went on to become one of the most successful Australian films of all time, earning more than $80 million at the box office.
Drew McOnie’s theatre credits include Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith), Oklahoma! (national tour), The Sound of Music (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Hairspray (national tour), In the Heights (Southwark Playhouse and King’s Cross Theatre) and Chicago (Curve Theatre, Leicester). He recently created a brand new dance thriller production of Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic.
Readers may also be interested in:
Strictly Ballroom the Musical – Sydney Lyric Theatre – Review