Van Outen to Star in Revised Lloyd Webber Song and Dance in London

News   Van Outen to Star in Revised Lloyd Webber Song and Dance in London

Denise Van Outen, who made her Broadway debut as Roxie in Chicago after the playing part to much acclaim in London, is set to star in a revised version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance in London.

At the end of August, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 2002 Sydmonton Festival featured a number of new musical ideas, most of which are strictly under wraps. The one piece of news that was made public was the fact that Van Outen will star in a new production of Song and Dance that Lloyd Webber has rewritten around her personality and style.

Van Outen, who is best known for her British TV morning show "The Big Breakfast," has also appeared onstage in the Royal Shakespeare Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Les Misérables and Stop The World — I Want to Get Off. Her television credits include "Something for the Weekend" and "Babes in the Woods."

Tell Me On a Sunday, the one-woman song cycle about an English woman who comes to America was written for West End musical theatre star Marti Webb. Sunday premiered as a best-selling record album and an acclaimed concert for BBC TV, which was later aired on U.S. television. Combined with Lloyd Webber's Variations, Tell Me On a Sunday became the first half of Song and Dance, a two-act concert for the theatre, which debuted at London's Palace Theatre in 1982. The first half featured Marti Webb — dressed in a man's suit and tie — singing the Lloyd Webber-Don Black score, and the second half included a company led by Wayne Sleep dancing to Lloyd Webber's "Variations," which the composer had originally written for brother Julian Lloyd Webber. A live recording was made on the show's opening night and was subsequently released as a double LP. Song and Dance ran for over two years in London, and Webb was succeeded by a host of actresses, including Gemma Craven, Lulu and Liz Robertson. Lyrics and song orders were changed slightly as each woman stepped into the role. The production was again recorded live when Sarah Brightman, who would later become Lloyd Webber's wife —they're now divorced — became the show's star.

In order to bring Song and Dance to Broadway, the creators decided that the two halves of the show needed to seem more of a whole, rather than two separate acts. After substantial revisions — Richard Maltby, Jr. helped Don Black alter many of the lyrics — the show opened on Broadway starring Bernadette Peters as English hat designer Emma. During the first half of the show, Peters sang about her many U.S. loves; the second half of the evening featured one of these men — Christopher d'Amboise as Joe — who related his story through dance. Side Show star Alice Ripley will get the chance to sing the score this winter at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Expect news soon as to which West End theatre will house the Van Outen Song and Dance.

—By Theatrenow and Andrew Gans