Full casting and creative details are announced today for the West End transfer of JUDY!, Ray Rackham’s biographical musical about the life of iconic movie star and singer Judy Garland, which runs at the Arts Theatre from 16 May to 17 June 2017, with a press night on 18 May.
As previously announced, Lucy Penrose, Belinda Wollaston and Helen Sheals reprise their lead roles as Judy at three different, distinct points in Garland’s life (Young Judy, Palace Theatre Judy and CBS Judy, respectively).
The trio are reunited for the West End run by most of the original company of actor-musicians: Harry Anton as Sid Luft, Amanda Bailey as Ethel Gumm, Carmella Brown as Judith Kramer, Don Cotter as LB Mayer, Tom Eliot Reade as Roger Edens, Chris McGuigan as Norman Jewison, Perry Meadowcroft as George Schlatter and Joe Shefer as Frank Gumm. Joining the cast in the West End is Christopher Dickins (most recently seen in Ragtime and The Phantom of the Opera) as Hunt Stromberg Jr.
Commenting on casting for the show’s new dates, writer and director Ray Rackham told our sister site StageFaves.com:
“It’s with no uncertain amount of pride that London Theatre Workshop has its first West End transfer with a show that started its life in our 60-seat studio theatre less than two years ago. What is even more thrilling is that we’re taking almost the entire cast who originated those roles with us. With some members returning to the West End after many years, and others making their West End debut; all-in-all it feels like a dream come true.”
Since her first tentative steps on the stage as a young girl, Judy Garland has become an enduring icon to millions of fans of all generations around the world. Leaving behind the usual portrayal of Garland’s life as one of pure heartbreak and self-destruction, Rackham has created a poignant and ultimately uplifting story portraying the star as a survivor in a man’s world. He has cleverly created an overlapping story of three ages of Judy – Young Judy (an innocent girl filled with hope and excitement as she heads toward her life-changing performance in The Wizard of Oz), Palace Theatre Judy (a woman at the height of her performing powers in the midst of a passionate romance with Sidney Luft) and CBS Judy (an older and possibly wiser woman) – that demonstrates that no matter how hard we look for love in all the wrong places, the answer is ultimately inside ourselves.
JUDY! began life as Through The Mill and was originally developed by London Theatre Workshop in 2015 before transferring for a limited season to London’s Southwark Playhouse in 2016. In addition to the slew of five-star reviews, the show was also nominated in two categories at the 2015 Off West-End Awards, Best New Play (Ray Rackham) and Best Female Actress (Lucy Penrose). Additionally, Penrose was nominated London Newcomer of the Year at the 2016 MyTheatreMates “#Also Recognised” Awards. The show also garnered no fewer than nine BroadwayWorld Award nominations including Best Actress nominations for all three Judys.
JUDY! is produced in the West End by London Theatre Workshop with Julie Clare Productions. In addition to Ray Rackham, the creative team are: Carolyn Scott Jeffs (dramaturg), Simon Holt (arranger and musical director), Chris Whittaker (choreographer), Tom Paris (set designer), Jack Weir (lighting designer), Millie Hobday (costume designer), Leanne Steedman (hair and makeup), Ed Shaw (sound designer), Julie Clare (general manager), Samuel Julyan (casting), Peter John Dodsworth (associate musical supervisor) and Michelle Hutchings (assistant producer).