Tony Nominee Jenna Russell Among Cast of Merrily We Roll Along at London's Menier Chocolate Factory
By Mark Shenton
Casting has been announced for the new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along that begins performances at London's Menier Chocolate Factory Nov. 16, prior to an official opening Nov. 28, for a run through Feb. 23, 2013.
Mark Umbers will play Franklin Shepard, and Damian Humbley will play Charley Kringas, with Tony nominee Jenna Russell as Mary Flynn. All three have appeared in Menier productions before: Umbers was seen in Sweet Charity as Oscar/Vittorio, which subsequently transferred to the West End's Theatre Royal, Haymarket; Humbley starred in the UK premiere of Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years at the Menier; and Russell starred as Dot in the West End and Broadway transfers of the Menier's production of Sunday in the Park with George (though the role was originated at the Menier by Anna-Jane Casey).
Umbers was most recently seen in the West End in The Browning Version (transferred from Chichester's Minerva Theatre). Humbley's other credits include playing Seymour in the UK tour of the Menier's Little Shop of Horrors, Company at Sheffield's Crucible and Lend Me a Tenor - the Musical at the West End's Gielgud Theatre. Russell, who won the Laurence Olivier Award and was Tony-nominated for Sunday in the Park with George, was recently in Soho Cinders at the Soho Theatre.
Also in featured roles are Clare Foster, Josefina Gabrielle, Glyn Kerslake and Zizi Strallen. Foster, who plays Beth Spencer, is currently appearing in the world premiere of Finding Neverland at the Curve, Leicester and was recently seen in the West End in the transfer of Crazy for You. Gabrielle, who plays Gussie Carnegie, previously appeared at the Menier in Sweet Charity, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award. She played Laurie in Trevor Nunn's production of Oklahoma! at the National opposite Hugh Jackman, subsequently transferring to Broadway with it in which she starred opposite Patrick Wilson. Kerslake, who plays Joe Josephson, was last seen at the Menier as Father in Road Show. Other West End credits include Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. Strallen, who plays Meg, is currently in Rock of Ages at the Shaftesbury.
The cast also includes Matthew Barrow, Martin Callaghan, Amanda Minihan, Amy Ellen Richardson and Robbie Scotcher.
Maria Friedman, a regular Sondheim performer whose roles have included playing Dot and Fosca in the UK premieres of Sunday in the Park with George and Passion, respectively, as well as Mrs. Lovett opposite Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd at the Royal Festival Hall, makes her directorial debut. She has also previously played Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along at Leicester Haymarket.
The creative team also includes designs by Soutra Gilmour, lighting by David Hersey, sound design by Gareth Owen, musical supervision and direction by Catherine Jayes and choreography by Tim Jackson.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7378 1713, or visit www.menierchocolatefactory.com for more details.
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