UK Roundup - Sharon Osbourne, Brooke Shields, Joanna Riding

Imagine this: you're a theatre producer sitting in your office and your big star name withdraws from the production the day before it opens, but fails to tell you or anyone connected to the show. Impossible! It surely couldn't happen?? Unless of course you're Sharon Osbourne, withdrawing from the West End production of The Vagina Monologues. Okay, let's be fair. Daughter Aimee Osbourne - who was also due to appear - had to fly back to LA due to a breast cancer scare, but at the time it happened the producers Mark Goucher and Sally Greene were none the wiser to this - they read the news in the newspaper. Despite being left in the lurch just a day before opening, they managed to find some replacements. Albeit not as big stars, but with all money going to women's charities, kudos to those who stepped in. It is now playing at the Wyndham's Theatre.

American Brooke Shields is the latest star in line to play Roxie Hart in the West End production of Chicago. After her acclaimed run in WonderfulTown, which even led to a new recording with the star, she will now light up London from April 26th, though – bizarrely - takes a two week break a week later. She stars opposite another American actress, Charley Izabella King, who recently completed an American tour of The Producers as Ulla. Currently booking until December 3rd, with a new star a new price increase comes into effect – top price seats rise from £42.50 to £45. Currently starring as Roxie is Jill Halfpenny, who is succeeded by Josefina Gabrielle before Shields steps in.

According to British newspaper The Daily Mail Joanna Riding will not be appearing in The Woman in White as was planned as she is expecting a baby. Instead, current star Maria Friedman will stay on until July before she heads to Texas' Ector Theatre to star as Momma Rose in Gypsy, and a replacement will be found in due course. Michael Crawford, whom it was hoped would return in early May, is still out of the show and so replacing Michael Ball is Anthony Andrews, last seen on the London stage in My Fair Lady opposite Laura Michelle Kelly. During that run he hit the headlines when he collapsed from drinking too much water. Let's hope that in Count Fosco's fat suit he stays sufficiently well hydrated!

The hit production of The Big Life will finally transfer from the Theatre Royal Stratford East into the West End, opening at the Apollo Theatre on May 23rd. The first all-black British musical had been searching for a home for months after two sell-out, extended seasons in east London and had hoped to open at the New London before Joseph extended by five months. The Big Life is a feelgood ska musical that 'captures the mood of the period in the music and charts the stories of Caribbean migrants in their hunt for a better life'. Written by Paul Sirret, with music by Paul Joseph, the show is directed by Clint Dyer and starred Tameka Empson and Jason Pennycooke, who are expected to transfer with the production.

The theatre behind the hit West End production of Sweeney Todd, which is now heading to Broadway, is bringing its unique style to another show – Mack and Mabel. With David Soul - who recently played the title role in Jerry Springer the Opera - as Mack and Chicago star Anna Jane Casey as Mabel, the show at the Watermill Theatre Newbury promises a cast of just 11 actors who not only act but play instruments too. Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life film producer Mack Sennett and his relationship with the actress Mabel Norman, with whom he made many films. Featuring the hit song 'I Won't Send Roses', it was last seen in the West End in 1995.  Its limited season begins on May 18th and is directed by John Doyle.

Other news -

In addition to last week's news about the new Leo Bloom in The Producers, a new Max has been announced - Fred Applegate. Starring opposite John Gordon Sinclar, Applegate – who has played Max before on the US tour – opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on April 25th. The rest of the cast remains the same.

There are lots of Irish transfers on the cards – The Shaughraun goes from the Abbey Theatre in Dublin to the Albery Theatre from the end of May and Tom Courtenay returns to the Comedy Theatre in Briel Friel's The Home Place, transferring from the Gate Theatre in Dublin.  Also announcing a transfer is Richard Eyre's HeddaGabler from the Almeida Theatre in North London to the Duke of York's.

Related Articles

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...)