Helena Blackman and Julia McKenzie Cast in Cardiff Gypsy

News   Helena Blackman and Julia McKenzie Cast in Cardiff Gypsy Helena Blackman, a finalist in the recent BBC-TV reality program "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," has been cast in the Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre's upcoming production of Gypsy.

Blackman, according to the Festival's official website, will star in the title role as famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. She will be joined onstage by the award-winning actress Julia McKenzie, whose London stage credits include Follies, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods. McKenzie will play the stripper Mazeppa. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

In a statement composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the producers and judges of the "Maria" reality contest, said, "I'm delighted that the hugely talented Helena is performing the role of Gypsy Rose Lee. This girl has a great future and like everyone I am going to follow her career with great interest."

This year's Festival, which is celebrating the centenary of the late Jule Styne, will present Styne's Gypsy Oct. 29 at 7:30 PM at the Wales Millennium Center. The one-night-only event will feature a full orchestra under the baton of Stewart Mackintosh. Gypsy is a co-production of the Festival and the Millennium Center.

Gypsy features a score by Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and a book by Arthur Laurents. The musical — with Ethel Merman as Rose — bowed on Broadway in May 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, playing 702 performances before closing at the Imperial Theatre, where it later transferred, on March 25, 1961. Subsequent revivals have featured Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly and Bernadette Peters as Rose. A 1962 film featured Rosalind Russell as Rose with Natalie Wood as Gypsy Rose Lee; a 1993 TV version cast Bette Midler in the lead role.

Tickets, priced £10-£90, are available by calling 08701 283 560. Visit www.cardiffmusicals.com for more information.