Billy Elliot Celebrates 10th Birthday, Les Mis Announces 30th Anniversary Cast #WestEndUpdate
| By Andrew Tomlins
Billy Elliot The Musical has had a busy couple of weeks at the Victoria Palace Theatre! On 12th May the production celebrated its tenth birthday with a special gala performance which saw six Billys unite onstage as well as previous cast members who returned for a spectacular finale! The show’s composer Elton John was also in attendance.
To celebrate the show’s birthday, producers have extended Billy Elliot’s West End booking period to 17th December 2016 and confirmed that a UK touring production will be launched next February. New cast members have joined Billy Elliot this week, with Phil Snowdon and James Butcher taking over as Mr Braithwaite and Older Billy respectively. Ruthie Henshall and Deka Walmsley continue to lead the show as Mrs Wilkinson and Dad.
Cameron Mackintosh has revealed who will be leading the cast of Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theatre as the show prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Fresh from dazzling as Gigi in Miss Saigon, international megastar Rachelle Ann Go will join Les Miserables as Fantine on 15th June.
Also joining the cast next month are Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia/EastEnders) as Thénardier and Jeremy Secomb (Sweeney Todd/Phantom of the Opera) as Javert whilst Zoë Doano and Katy Secombe are reprising their performances as Cosette and Madame Thénardier. They join Peter Lockyer as Jean Valjean, Rob Houchen as Marius and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Eponine. Current ensemble member Bradley Jaden is taking over as Enjolras.
Following months of speculation, it has been confirmed that Motown The Musical will begin performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 11th February 2016. Motown premiered on Broadway in April 2013 where it ran until January 2015 before kicking off a U.S. tour.
The Daily Mail has suggested that the musical’s book has been rewritten for the West End run and ten minutes has been cut from the running time. Motown features a sixteen piece orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks; Charles Randolph-Wright’s production tells the story behind the classic hits.
James Freedman is bringing his one-man show Man Of Steal to the West End following a sell-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Opening at Trafalgar Studios 1 on 26th May, fast-fingered pick pocketing expert Freedman exposes how the bad guys really work. As well as being fun and entertaining, Man Of Steal is also fascinating and eye opening.
Former X Factor winner Matt Cardle is taking over from Killian Donnelly as Huey in the West End production of Memphis The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre this summer. Cardle will play his first performance on 6th July 2015, joining soul queen Beverley Knight who blows the roof off the Shaftesbury Theatre night after night as Felicia Farrell.
Also this summer a live version of 90's improv TV show Whose Line is it Anyway? will open in the West End for a limited two week run at the Adelphi Theatre. The show will open on 20th June, reuniting Clive Anderson, Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood. Kinky Boots opens at the Adelphi in August.
In other news, Bradley Cooper is already being mobbed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s stage door each night as The Elephant Man has begun previews in London following its acclaimed Broadway run. Elsewhere, former War Horse star Sion Daniel Young will take over as Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre from 22nd June 2015.
Finally, the West End has bid farewell to Oppenheimer at the Vaudeville Theatre, Golem at Trafalgar Studios and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Playhouse Theatre.