The play, written by Peter Quilter and directed by Terry Johnson (currently represented on Broadway by his production of La Cage aux Folles), stars Olivier Award winner Tracie Bennett as Garland. The play has previously been seen on the London fringe and at the Edinburgh Fringe. This new production transfers to the West End from Northampton's Royal and Derngate.
The show features such songs as "The Man That Got Away," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "The Trolley Song" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." According to press materials, the show is set in Garland's hotel room, where, with a new young fiancé by her side, she battles with drugs and alcohol as she undertakes a series of concerts at the Talk of the Town cabaret venue in a bid to reclaim her crown as the greatest talent of her generation. But within six months, she will be dead at the age of just 47, her body wrecked by the legendary amounts of drink and drugs she had been consuming since a teenager.
The cast also includes Hilton McRae as Anthony, Garland's devoted Scottish pianist and musical director; Stephen Hagan as about-to-be-husband number five Mickey Deanes; Robin Browne as Radio Interviewer, Porter and Stage Manager; plus a six piece onstage band, under the musical direction of Gareth Valentine. The production is designed by William Dudley with sound design by Gareth Owen and lighting by Simon Corder. It is presented in the West End by Lee Dean, Jenny Topper, Laurence Myers, Charles Diamond and Hilary Williams in association with Royal & Derngate, Northampton.
Bennett was last seen in the West End as Jacqueline in Johnson's production of La Cage aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre, and originated the role of Velma von Tussle in the West End premiere of Hairspray, for which she won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Role in a Musical. Other West End credits include Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre, High Society at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park and She Loves Me at the Savoy Theatre. On TV she has played Sharon Gaskell in "Coronation Street."
McRae has most recently been seen in Channel 4's feature length television drama playing the title role in "The Execution of Gary Glitter." Recent theatre credits include The Kreutzer Sonata for the Gate Theatre and Caroline, Or Change for the National Theatre. He has worked extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Hagan's theatre credits include The York Realist at Riverside Studios, Cyrano De Bergerac at the Chichester Festival Theatre and Troilus and Cressida for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Browne has appeared in the West End as a member of the Peter Hall Company in The Rose Tattoo and An Ideal Husband, and appeared as Le Beau and Oliver Mar-Text in Hall's production of As You Like It in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On TV, he played Rusty in the original television series of "Crossroads."
Johnson's other West End directorial credits include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville Theatre, Rain Man at the Apollo Theatre, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Gielgud Theatre and his own plays Hitchcock Blonde at the Royal Court Theatre, which transferred to the West End, and Cleo Camping Emmanuelle and Dick at the National Theatre.
Quilter's previous plays include Glorious!, seen at the West End's Duchess Theatre with Maureen Lipman, Duet, Celebrity, Just the Ticket and The Nightingales.
End of the Rainbow is currently booking through March 5, 2011. To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 871 7632, or visit www.trafalgar-studios.co.uk for more details.