Clarke to Star in U.K. Revival of Ahrens and Flaherty's Once on This Island

By Mark Shenton
12 Jan 2009

Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens
Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's 1990 musical Once on This Island will be revived at Birmingham Rep in the U.K. prior to visiting Nottingham Playhouse and London's Hackney Empire.

Performances will run June 5-20 in Birmingham, June 24-July 11 in Nottingham, then July 20-Aug. 15 in London. The musical, which premiered at Off-Broadway's Playwright's Horizons in May 1990 before transferring to Broadway's Booth Theatre in October of that year, made its British premiere at Birmingham Rep in 1994, before transferring to the West End's Royalty (now the Peacock), where it opened Sept. 28.

Sharon D. Clarke, who starred in that original production, will reprise her role as Asaka, mother of the Earth, in this new production that is being directed by Susie McKenna.

Clarke is best known for her role as Lola Griffin, a doctor, in the U.K. TV series "Holby City." Her other West End stage credits include Guys and Dolls, Rent, Fame, The Lion King, Chicago and We Will Rock You. She was recently seen in the Hackney Empire pantomime Mother Goose, also directed by Susie McKenna.

McKenna, a West End actress in her own right who has appeared in Chicago and as Jennyanydots in Cats, is well known for her directing and scripting of pantomimes. She is associate director at Hackney Empire, where she has directed the annual panto since 1994. Other directing credits include Steven Berkoff's Sit and Shiver (New End, then revived at Hackney) and James Sherman's Beau Jest last year.



Further casting details are still to be announced.

To book tickets or more information, contact the respective box offices: Birmingham Rep (0121 236 4455, www.birmingham-rep.co.uk), Nottingham Playhouse (0115 941 9419, www.nottinghamplayhouse.lco.uk), and Hackney Empire (020 8985 2424, www.hackneyempire.co.uk).