When Hal Prince's multi-award winning production of Show Boat comes to London's Prince Edward theatre next month, it will feature a top-flight cast of some of Broadway's most distinguished and experienced musical performers. Selected from the original Broadway and the North American companies, the London cast will comprise 57 actors, singers and dancers, the biggest company currently on the West End stage.
Show Boat tells the story of an extended theatrical family on the Cotton Blossom, a floating theatre that plied the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers a century ago. Its owner Cap'n Andy is played by George Grizzard and British born actress Carole Shelley returns to the West End to play his wife Parthy. Teri Hansen makes her London debut as their daughter Magnolia, and Hugh Panaro plays Gaylord Ravenal, a dashing river boat gamber who joins the show boat troupe as an actor. Terry Burrell plays the tragically fated Julie, and Joel Blum and Clare Leach play the vaudevillians Frank and Ellie. Michel Bell repeats his acclaimed performance of Joe, for which he received a Tony nomination, and his wife Queenie is played by Gretha Boston, a role for which she won the 1995 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress.
This Harold Prince production is a new version of Show Boat incorporating elements from the musical's various scripts and film adaptations during the past 70 years. It opened on Broadway in October 1994, winning critical acclaim and setting the all-time record for the largest box office advance for a musical revival. The production went on to repeatedly break the record for highest weekly Broadway box office gross in history and became the most honoured musical of the 1994/95 season winning a total of 26 awards across North America including 5 Tony Awards.
Show Boat will opens at the Prince Edward Theatre on Tuesday, 28 April (previews from 20 April).