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Michael Ball Expected for Broadway Woman in White

Confirming rumors online and off that have been swirling for months, Variety reports that Michael Ball is expected to sign imminently to play the role of Count Fosco in Woman in White's Broadway premiere. Quoting Bob Boyett, a lead producer on the show, the paper reports that negotiations are well under way, and that he's expected to sign for 40 weeks.

Ball previously played the role of Count Fosco in London, taking over for original lead Michael Crawford who left the show for health reasons. Prior to the Woman in White, Ball will be starring in the New York City Opera's production of Patience in September.

The Woman in White will open on Broadway on November 17th at the Marquis Theatre after beginning previews on October 28th. Adam Brazier (Mamma Mia! in Toronto) will play romantic lead Walter, original West End star and 2-time Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman (Chicago, Ragtime, Passion) is expected to make her Broadway debut as Marian.

 The Woman in White, which is based on the classic Wilkie Collins novel, is currently spooking audiences at London's Palace Theatre, where it opened on September 15th, 2004. Directed by Trevor Nunn (Les Miserables, Chess), the show (which was nominated for 5 Olivier Awards) features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera), lyrics by David Zippel (City of Angels, The Goodbye Girl) and a book by Charlotte Jones (Humble Boy). William Dudley (sets and costumes), Paul Pyant (lighting), and Mick Potter (sound) make up the design team with Wayne McGregor behind the choreography and Simon Lee handling the music supervision. All of the creative team will be on hand for the Broadway run.

The show is (according to production notes) about "a dashing young man, employed as the art tutor to two devoted sisters, [who] is stranded at a remote railway cutting. Out of the darkness looms a woman, a mysterious figure dressed in white, desperate to share a chilling secret. He and the sisters soon find themselves trapped in a web of betrayal and greed, the victims of a seemingly flawless crime. Together they will need all their resourcefulness and courage to outwit a hugely charismatic and ingenious villain. As the compelling plot twists and turns, low villainy vies with high romance in a world where nothing is as it first appears and where it is impossible to know who to trust."

Ruthie Henshall, who succeeded Friedman, currently stars as Marian. The cast also includes Anthony Andrews as the nefarious Count Fosco (a role originated by Michael Crawford), as well as Damien Humbley, Alexandra Silber, Michael Cormick and Elinor Collett as the white wraith of the title.

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