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MIRANDA HART TO MAKE WEST END DEBUT IN ANNIE (20 FEBRUARY 2017)

Multi award-winning comedy writer, actor and author Miranda Hart, will make her West End theatre debut as Miss Hannigan in Annie, which starts performances at the Piccadilly Theatre on 23 May 2017. The production, directed by Nikolai Foster, will be produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Miranda Hart said: "Miss Hannigan is a dream role, and certainly has been for me, but I never thought it would be a reality. But here we are and I have a newly found musical theatre-esque spring in my step! I hope people will leave the theatre feeling life is a little better and dreamier and jollier after watching it, as much as we feel that performing it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some leg-warmers to put on..."

Nikolai Foster's production arrives in the West End 40 years after the original Broadway production opened in 1977 and received seven Tony awards including the Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The last West End production of Annie opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1998. In 1982, Annie was adapted for the big screen directed by John Huston with a cast including Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters and Albert Finney and in 2014 a further feature film was released, directed by Will Gluck, with a cast including Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx. The much-loved score includes the classics It's A Hard Knock Life, Tomorrow and Easy Street.

Public booking for Annie is due to open on Monday 27 February 2017, with the production initially booking to 6 January 2018.


BEN FORSTER EXTENDS HIS RUN AS THE PHANTOM (16 FEBRUARY 2017)

Ben Forster will extend his run as The Phantom until Saturday 2 September 2017 in the smash hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom Of The Opera.

Now in its 31st year at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End, the show also stars Celinde Schoenmaker as Christine Daae and Nadim Naaman as Raoul. Ben Forster is probably best known for winning the ITV1 show Superstar - Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV talent search for Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. His other theatre credits include Buddy in Elf The Musical and Magaldi in Evita, both at the Dominion Theatre.

They are joined by Sion Lloyd as Monsieur Firmin; Mark Oxtoby as Monsieur Andre; Paul Ettore Tabone as Piangi and Daisy Hulbert as Meg. Also continuing their roles are: Lara Martins as Carlotta and Jacinta Mulcahy as Madame Giry and Harriet Jones as alternate Christine Daae.

Continuing until 2 September the full cast is: Matt Blaker; Bridget Costello; Maria Coyne; Scott Davies; Hadrian Delacey; Morven Douglas; Ben Forster; Lyndsey Gardiner; Lori Gilchrist; Ryan Goscinski; Philip Griffiths; Hettie Hobbs; Lily Howes; Daisy Hulbert; Ellen Jackson; Harriet Jones; Richard Kent; Tim Laurenti; Adam Robert Lewis; Sion Lloyd; Lara Martins; Luke McCall; Leo Miles; Fiona Morley; Tim Morgan; Paul Morrissey; Jacinta Mulcahy; Nadim Naaman; Mark Oxtoby; Danielle Pullum; James Roxby-Brown; Celinde Schoenmaker; Tom Sterling; Joanna Strand; Paul Ettore Tabone; Claire Tilling, Charlotte Vaughan; Victoria Ward and Georgia Ware.

Phantom has won over 70 major theatre awards, including seven Tony's on Broadway and three Olivier Awards in the West End. It most recently won the Magic Radio Audience Award, voted by the public, in the 2016 Laurence Olivier Awards. The show, which opened at Her Majesty's in 1986 originally starred Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Theatre Company Limited.


MOTOWN MUSICAL CELEBRATES FIRST BIRTHDAY WITH EXTENSION TO 2018 (14 FEBRUARY 2017)

The hit West End production of Motown the Musical has released over 200,000 new tickets for sale with the show now booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre to 24 February 2018 as the production celebrates its first birthday in London.

From 7 March 2017 the West End cast comprises Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy with Lucy St. Louis as Diana Ross, Obioma Ugoala as Smokey Robinson and Sifiso Mazibuko as Marvin Gaye. Members of the ensemble play the roles of Eddie Kendricks, Jackie Wilson, Anna Gordy, Esther, Teena Marie, Florence Ballard, Martha Reeves, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Mary Wells, Mary Wilson and Stevie Wonder. The ensemble features Cameron Bernard Jones, Ryan Carter, KM Drew Boateng, Samuel Edwards, Dujonna Gift-Simms, Vanessa Fisher, Terique Jarrett, Cleopatra Joseph, Wilson Kiiru, Natasha Leaver, Brandon Lee Sears, Kieran McGinn, Simone Mistry-Palmer, Samuel Nicholas, Brianna Ogunbawo, Matt Overfield, Jay Perry, Timothy Quinlan, Simon Ray Harvey, Sharon Rose, Lawrence Rowe, Ashley Samuels, Carl Spencer, Richard Taylor Woods, Alex Thomas-Smith, Cherelle Williams ,Michael Woolston-Thomas and Jayme-Lee Zanoncelli. Nana Ageyman-Bediako, 11 years old from Haringey, London, Raphael Higgins-Humes, 11 years old from Greenwich, London, Rio Myers, 10 years old from Lewisham, London and Tumo Reetsang, 12 years old from Southwark, London alternate the role of Young Michael Jackson.

With music and lyrics from the Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy the production features a sixteen-piece orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain't No Mountain High Enough, I'll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine. Charles Randolph-Wright's production tells the story behind the classic hits.