London's Avenue Q to Close in March 2009; Atherton to Return to Cast

News   London's Avenue Q to Close in March 2009; Atherton to Return to Cast The West End production of Jeff Marx, Robert Lopez and Jeff Whitty's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q, which will celebrate its 1,000th performance at the Noel Coward Theatre Oct. 23, will end its run March 28, 2009.

Daniel Boys with Princeton
Daniel Boys with Princeton Photo by Tristram Kenton

Beginning Dec. 1 five cast members will join the company for its final stand, including Julie Atherton, the West End's original Kate Monster/Lucy, who will return to those same roles as well as newcomers Joanna Ampil as Christmas Eve, Rachel Jerram as Mrs. T/Bear, and new ensemble members Candy Ma and Maria Lawson.

In a press statement, co-producer Cameron Mackintosh said, "I am thrilled that Avenue Q is now about to celebrate its 1000th performance in London. Even though we received mixed reviews when we opened over two and a half years ago, this unique show with its wicked songs and feel-good story immediately established itself as one of the most original productions bringing a new audience into the West End. . . . I am also delighted to welcome back our highly acclaimed original leading lady Julie Atherton who together with the very talented Joanna Ampil will join Daniel Boys and a terrific cast for our final season."

Atherton replaces Rebecca Lock. Her previous theatre credits include the lead role of Sophie in Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward Theatre), Serena in the national tour and West End productions of Fame, Alice in Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi (Liverpool Playhouse), and Cathy in Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years (seen in three Sunday performances at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket).

Ampil, who replaces Yanle Zhong, made her West End debut in Miss Saigon (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), in which she played Kim, reprising the role for the production's Australian premiere and U.K. tour. Other theatre credits include Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyceum Theatre), Eponine and Fantine in Les Misérables (Palace Theatre and Queen's Theatre), Sheila Franklin in Hair (Gate Theatre) and Mimi in the European tour of Rent.

Jerram, who replaces Jacqui Sanchez, is currently part of the Avenue Q ensemble and has previously appeared as Polly Browne in The Boy Friend (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park) and on TV in "Coronation Street" and "Blue Peter." The show will continue to feature Daniel Boys (from BBC1's "Any Dream Will Do" star search for the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Edward Baruwa (recently seen as Enjolras in Les Misérables), Mark Goldthorp and Christopher Fry.

To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 482 5141 or visit www.avenueqthemusical.co.uk.

The London cast of <i>Avenue Q</i>
The London cast of Avenue Q Photo by Tristram Kenton