American actress Anika Larsen, of Broadway's Xanadu, All Shook Up and Rent, will play the central role of Molly — "a beautiful yet principled young woman" angered by the senselessness of civil war in 1920s Ireland.
Larsen is remembered for a vocally-hot Off-Broadway turn in Zanna, Don't!, which is preserved on a cast album. In Xanadu, she created the role of muse Euterpe and understudied the lead muse, Clio/Kira.
Ha'Penny Bridge is characterized as Broadway-bound, though no target date or theatre for New York City have been announced.
Narina Productions announced the principal casting Jan. 28, the same day the San Francisco engagement was announced. Ha'Penny Bridge will play the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, May 16-June 29, as part of the 2008 Mirvish Productions season, and then July 6-Aug. 10 as part of the SHN season at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre.
Written and composed by Alastair McGuckian and directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, the musical "tells the story of Ireland and a love torn apart by a country divided," according to producers. "Set in Dublin during the civil war in the early 1920s, the rich but troubled love story is played out against a backdrop of heightened nationalistic tension, divided loyalties, greed and deceit ultimately leading to dramatic consequences." The work had a developmental production in Ireland, and has since been revised.
Principals in the cast of 31 will include Clive Carter (West End's A Man for All Seasons, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and the original productions of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera) as Peadar Cassidy, a lovable ne'er-do-well — and Molly's father; Kyle Blair (of the Stratford Festival's Oklahoma! and Into the Woods) as the "handsome and quick-witted" George, Molly's love interest; Susan Henley as Molly's mother, Anna; Mary Ann McDonald as uncouth Maggie Kelly; and Keith Dinicol (a Stratford Festival favorite) as Whippett Kearney, "a shifty scrounger."
An orchestra of 24 is expected.
As previously reported, producer Garrett McGuckian's creative team includes Canadian director and choreographer Feore (Stratford Festival's Oklahoma! and Oliver!), orchestrators Larry Blank (The Drowsy Chaperone and White Christmas) and Peter Myers (Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me), vocal arranger Gordon Harrell (Fosse), musical director Grant Sturiale (Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular), scenic designer Allen Moyer (The Little Dog Laughed and Grey Gardens), costume designer Michael Gianfrancesco (The Comedy of Errors and An Ideal Husband at the Stratford Festival), lighting designer Jock Munro and sound designer Peter McBoyle.
For more information about the Toronto engagement, visit www.mirvish.com. For more information about the San Francisco run, visit www.shnsf.com.