London Theatre Weekly Round-up: casting announced for Chicago revival and ENO’s Chess, plus more!

black and white photo of Ruthie Henshall in 'Chicago' Ruthie Henshall in 'Chicago'

Your weekly London theatre news round-up is here! Among other things, find out about a new West End theatre in the works (maybe we should say “in pre-production”) and learn who will be appearing in the highly anticipated ENO production of Chess!

Benny Andersson, one of the writers of the musical Chess, may have spilled the beans a little early in regards to casting for the upcoming ENO production – but who’s complaining? Earlier this week – via Twitter – Andersson confirmed several rumors floating around the internet about the casting for ENO’s Chess. And just today, casting was officially announced. We now know that the new production will star Michael Ball as the Russian, Tim Howar as the American, Alexandra Burke as Svetlana, Cassidy Janson as Florence, and Murray Head as the Arbiter.

Headshots of Chess cast
Michael Ball, Tim Howar, Alexandra Burke, and Cassidy Janson

Popular stage and screen actress Romola Garai returns to the West End to play the titular character in Ella Hickson’s new play The Writer. The show makes its world premiere at the Almeida Theatre in April, directed by Blance McIntyre.

And there’s some more Chicago casting news as well! Joining Cuba Gooding as Billy Flynn in the new West End revival will be Ruthie Henshall (Mama Morton), Sarah Soetaert (Roxie), and Josefina Gabrielle (Velma).

black and white photo of Sarah Soetaert in 'Chicago'
Sarah Soetaert as Roxie Hart in ‘Chicago.’ Credit Catherine Ashmore.

Strictly Ballrooma new West End musical based on Baz Luhrmann’s film of the same name – is coming to the Picadilly Theatre, with previews starting 29 March. Apparently, it’s taken several years and various incarnations to get the show to where it is now: the original version played in Australia four years ago, then a second version played in Leeds and Toronto. But according to Drew McOnie (director and choreographer) this third version differs radically from the other two. For one thing, there will be a lot more feathers. Designed by Baz Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, the costumes for the Leeds version included 4,000 ostrich feathers. But McOnie says they’ve added at least a third more since then. Sounds like an event you won’t want to miss out on….

Production still from 'Girls & Boys' starring Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan in ‘Girls & Boys.’ Credit: Marc Brenner

Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys, a one woman show starring the wonderful Carey Mulligan, opened late last week. Critics are calling the show “gut-wrenching” (The Guardian), and “a devastating tour de force” (Telegraph). They seem to have only good things to say about Mulligan’s “transfixing performance” which reportedly “makes the audience hold its breath” (Evening Standard). Bad news, though (well, good news for Mulligan but bad for us): the show is already sold out. But there is hope…. a limited number of £12 tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. every Monday through the Royal Court’s website.

In the mood for a lovely little fairy tale? Club 11 London and Alex Parker Theatre Company just announced a concert (set for July) of Tori Amos’ and Samuel Adamson’s The Light Princess: a musical based on the story by George MacDonald. Rosalie Craig will play the princess Althea, with Hadley Fraser as the heroic prince Digby. Further casting has yet to be announced but honestly, what more do you need to know?

In other news, developer Derwent London plans to spruce up the Tottenham Court Road area with new retail and commercial space, and – get this – a new West End theatre. Sounds good to us.