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UK Roundup - Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Aaron Lazar

The controversy over the BBC screening Jerry Springer the Opera took a turn this week when Christian groups gathered outside the BBC's headquarters burning their television licenses in protest against their decision to show it. The Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, was quick to jump back - "I am a practising Christian but there is nothing in this which I believe to be blasphemous" but with a reported 40,000 complaints some pressure groups are considering taking legal action against the BBC. The musical - currently playing at the Cambridge Theatre - opened at the Royal National Theatre in 2003 and was hailed by the critics, including Ben Brantley admitting "I find myself singing it while doing household chores".

Nathan Lane was forced to withdraw from The Producers just after Christmas, with only two weeks left of his contract. The American actor had been considered the saviour of the London production when Richard Dreyfuss was sacked just days before first preview. Flown over by Brooks to stand in before a replacement could be found, a back injury (ironically the reason given for Dreyfuss' withdrawal) forced him to quit ahead of filming the new musical version in February. Brad Oscar, who has played the role in America, is taking over from Monday 10th January. Any news on a British replacement has gone quiet, though many names are still being touted around.

Joining Australian actors Caroline O'Connor and Adam Garcia in the English National Opera's production of On The Town is Aaron Lazar as Gabey. Though perhaps not a recognised Broadway star yet, Lazar has previously performed on Broadway as understudies to Raoul in Phantom of the Opera and Curly in Trevor Nunn's Oklahoma. The Bernstein musical, which starts on March 5th at the London Coliseum, is directed by Jude Kelly and has choreography by Stephen Mear - both of whom worked together on The National Theatre's Olivier Award winning Singin' in the Rain.

And joining Ewan McGregor as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls is Douglas Hodge, last seen at the Royal Court Theatre in Dumb Show. The Daily Mail reported that McGregor had seen the actor in the play and recommended him to director Michael Grandage. Though he has never sung on stage before, he is apparently a talented singer. Jane Krakowski will play Miss Adelaide, not Megan Mullally as was once anticipated. Krakowski, most famous for her role as Elaine in Ally McBeal, was to appear in the Broadway staging of Hitchcock Blonde, but these plans have been cancelled.

 

Like all in the theatre world, I was greatly saddened to read that actor Ross Baker, who played the role of Schlomo in the touring production of Fame, was not accounted for after holidaying in Koh Phi Phi, badly hit by the Asian tsunami disaster. Like most musicals in the West End, Fame is collecting money at the end of their show, though theirs has an added reason to do so. The tour reforms on Monday with an understudy taking the role. In other tsunami news, We Will Rock You will give all proceeds from their 1000th performance to the UNICEF tsunami fund and Grand Hotel has added an additional money-raising performance.

And finally, Bat Boy has brought forward its closing to January 15th. Also closing on January 15th is Little Women at the Duchess Theatre. It will be replaced by Terence Rattigan's Man and Boy, starring David Suchet. The play had previously been touring the regions and will come to the capital for a 10 week stint. It made news headlines when one of Suchet's co-stars, Fritha Goodey, committed suicide during the rehearsal period. The production is directed by Maria Aitken, herself a successful actress, and opens on February 7th.

 

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From This Author Jake Brunger

Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include (read more...)