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Principal Casting Announced For July Performance Of New Anne Murray Musical

Principal Casting Announced For July Performance Of New Anne Murray Musical

The principal casting for the first public performance of a new musical featuring the hits of Grammy-award-winning Canadian singer Anne Murray was revealed today.

Written by Nova Scotians Geordie Brown and Belinda Hart, COULD I HAVE THIS DANCE? takes the stage July 26th, 2019 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax, NS in what the show's writers call "a special concert performance".

The all-Canadian cast will be led by Ellen Denny, Judy Marshak, Charlotte Moore, Laura Larson, Andrew MacNaughton, and David Michael Moote.

Five of the six announced actors performed in a workshop reading of the show in Halifax in October 2018.

Denny, who was recently nominated for a Dora Award for originating the lead role in Britta Johnson's Life After in Toronto, will play Evie, a young aspiring dancer who is faces widowhood at a young age. Denny is known to Halifax audiences for her performances at Neptune Theatre, including Belle in Beauty & the Beast, and Johanna in Sweeney Todd. Her new play Pleasureville will make its world premiere at Neptune this coming Fall.

Marshak and Moore will play Denny's mother Kit and aunt Beatrice, respectively.

Marshak's wide-ranging career has spanned television, songwriting, and musical theatre, including Doubt at Theatre New Brunswick, four seasons at the Charlottetown Festival, and a long run in her Dora-award-winning performance as Mrs. Potts in Disney's Toronto production of Beauty & The Beast. COULD I HAVE THIS DANCE? will mark Marshak's Nova Scotian debut.

Moore, who is the daughter of Mavor Moore (best known as one of the creators of Anne of Green Gables - The Musical), is familiar to Halifax audiences, having starred in Les Miserables and Gypsy at Neptune Theatre. In addition to several seasons at the Shaw Festival, and a Dora-Award-winning performance in Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moore was praised by critics for her standout performance in Stan Rogers: A Matter of Heart across Canada. A champion of Canadian musical theatre, Moore was also recently announced as a cast member of Brown's all-new musical tribute to Singalong Jubilee, debuting at The Guild in Charlottetown this Fall.

Larson will round out the show's sisterhood of women, playing Evie's lifelong best friend, Anna. Larson was recently seen in Easternfront Theatre's presentation of Jim Betts' and John Estacio's new musical, Bluenose.

Andrew MacNaughton returns to the role of John, a wealthy bachelor who owns the fictional Cape Breton Lodge, based on the real-life Keltic Lodge. Anne Murray filmed many television specials at the Nova Scotian landmark throughout the 80s and 90s. MacNaughton recently made his US debut in Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

David Michael Moote, the cast's sole newcomer, will play the role of Wally, lead singer of the in-house band at the Mayflower Club, a fictional dance club based on Halifax's Olympic Gardens. Moote recently performed in Jukebox Hero - The Musical at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in downtown Toronto. Moote is the lead vocalist in Operus, a "classically-influenced metal band".

"We are thrilled to welcome back so much of our Workshop cast for the July performance", says Belinda Hart, who originally wrote the show's storyline 10 years ago.

"We are so fortunate to continue to have these artists involved at the ground level."

The creative team for the concert performance will include director Geordie Brown, lighting designer Ryan O'Gara (Hamilton, Come From Away, A Night with Janis Joplin), design consultant Michelle Bohn (Jukebox Hero: The Musical, Save Me) and choreographer Mary Lou Martin.

"It's going to be a unique blend of musical theatre and concert" promises Brown, who is fresh off starring alongside Moote in the world premiere of Jukebox Hero: The Musical in Alberta and Toronto.

Brown says that while the show features songs from Murray's extensive catalogue, and borrows its title from her 1980 hit "Could I Have This Dance?", the show's plot is an original storyline, and not an account of the singer's life.

Brown & Hart have been collaborating over the past year, reworking Hart's original story, based on her grandmother's life, to make it better suited to the stage. It was only after they produced a workshop and reading presentation of the musical this past October that they connected with the Anne Murray Centre.

"In the past year, we have made some amazing connections, most excitingly with Anne Murray herself.", says Brown, who admits he didn't have her blessing before the October workshop.

"We wanted to take the time to develop the show and be sure we had a worthwhile product before we talked with Anne. It worked - she's been nothing but kind and supportive over the past few months. "

"It's a dream come true to have Anne's blessing.", adds Hart.

Full casting will be announced at a later date.

(Photo: Ellen Denny, Judy Marshak, Charlotte Moore, Laura Larson, David Michael Moote, Andrew MacNaughton.)

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