The show, which begins performances April 20 (instead of the previously announced April 17) at the West End's Garrick Theatre prior to an official opening April 28, is based on music from Essex's extensive pop catalogue, and has a book written by Jon Conway. It is directed by David Gilmore (replacing Nikolai Foster, who directed the previous national tour), with new sets and costumes by Ian Westbrook and sound by Steve Jonas. It is produced in the West End by Alan Darlow, Jon Conway and Lee Dean.
In the show, inspired by one of Essex's most successful albums, Essex himself plays Levi Lee, the owner of a fading fun fair, recently widowed and father of a rebellious teenage son named Jack (to be played by Michael Pickering). According to press materials, danger and mysticism lurk in the future as predicted by the gypsy fortune teller who is in love with Levi. Dodgems and motorbikes, crafty cons and candy floss, fairground horses and fights, along with unrequited love, romance and rock and roll bring out the carnival atmosphere in this underbelly world of fairground life.
In addition to Essex and Pickering, the full cast comprises Christopher Timothy (Harvey), Louise English (Rosa), Michael Pickering (Jack), Nicola Brazil (Alice), Cameron Jack (Druid), Susan Hallam-Wright (Mary), Chris Holland (Kipper), Kieran Jae (Scotty), Tom Kanavan (Spiv), Tim Newman (Slow Jonny), Robert Rees (Chris), Emily Tierney (Sally), Tricia Adele Turner (Laura), Shona White (Rita) and Danielle York (Maisy).
Essex was last seen on the London stage in Footloose – the Musical at the Novello Theatre in 2006, when he played the role of Reverend Shaw Moore. He played the role of Jesus in the original London production of Godspell in 1971 when he was 23, and later went on to originate the role of Che in the first production of Evita at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978. He also co-wrote and starred in the original musical Mutiny! that played at the West End's Piccadilly Theatre in 1985. He also regularly undertakes solo concert tours. All the Fun of the Fair includes some of his best-known songs, which he has re-written and arranged specially for this production. These include "Winter's Tale," "Hold Me Close," "Me And My Girl (Nightclubbing)," "Silver Dream Machine," "Gonna Make You A Star," "Rock On" and the title track "All the Fun of the Fair." The soundtrack of All the Fun of the Fair will be re-released by Universal in April to coincide with the opening of the show.
Timothy is best known on television for playing James Herriot in the long-running series "All Creatures Great And Small" and more recently his performance as Mac McGuire in the BBC drama series "Doctors." His stage credits include appearances in The Grapes of Wrath, Tons of Money, Quartermaine's Terms, Hay Fever, Underneath the Arches, Journey's End, The Actor's Nightmare, See How They Run and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He is currently recording a new series of the original James Herriot novels for CD Audio Book release. English's many musical stage credits include roles in Hello Dolly!, Annie and Oliver! She played Sally in Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre. Her other credits include Absent Friends, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Fur Coat and No Knickers as well as Private Lives, An Ideal Husband, Gaslight and Tomfoolery. English has starred in many pantomimes throughout the UK, and her television credits include "Fresh Fields," "Chance in a Million," "Brush Strokes" and many episodes of "The Benny Hill Show."
Brazil made her West End debut in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and subsequently went on to play Amber in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre and Sandy in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. She has recently filmed ITV's "Wire in the Blood" and played Fran in "Children’s Ward." Her debut album, "Cross the Battleline in Nashville," won her the HMV Rising Star Award; she was also named Touring Artist of the Year.
Pickering also made his West End debut in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre which he followed by playing the leading role of Ryan Evans in High School Musical at the Apollo Hammersmith. Subsequently he has performed in New Zealand, South East Asia and Europe in the world tour of Mamma Mia!
Conway created and directed Boogie Nights, which was one of the first pop catalogue musicals in the West End and subsequently has played all over the world. He wrote the original stage musical production of the Paramount hit TV series Happy Days. Recently he created the world-wide hit show Simply Ballroom, which premiered in Las Vegas, then toured the USA, Dubai, South Africa, Singapore and the UK including the Theatre Royal Drury Lane London. He is best known for his work as the most prolific writer of British pantomime, having produced and written over 400. He was co-founder and is a director of Qdos Entertainment plc and is also Managing Director of Qdos Productions.
Gilmore’s directing credits include Grease in the West End and internationally, Daisy Pulls It Off and Lend Me A Tenor at The Globe (now Gielgud), Noises Off which toured nationally, Defending The Caveman at the Apollo Theatre, Beyond Reasonable Doubt at the Queen’s Theatre, Chapter Two at the Gielgud Theatre and Annie Get Your Gun at the Aldwych Theatre.
The show is booking to Sept. 5. There will be no performances between June 25 and July 6. To book tickets, contact the box office at 0844 412 4662, or visit www.allthefunofthefairmusical.com.