THE Wanted’s Siva Kaneswaran will make his theatrical debut in the 2023 tour of new musical La Bamba!, appearing at the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 11.
Dublin-born boyband singer and songwriter and Dancing On Ice contestant Kaneswaran, 34, will play Mateo alongside Strictly Come Dancing champion Pasha Kovalev and rising star Inês Fernandez in the lead role of Sofia.
La Bamba! – A Musical tells the story of how the power of music can transform a generation and celebrate a community.
Sofia, 17, from Los Angeles, has music in her blood. From the moment her father handed her a guitar, her dream was to become a superstar. Inspired by her musical heroes and with the help of her family, Sofia discovers that even the longest journey begins with a single step.
As she mixes the music from her roots with the music in her heart, Sofia dreams of bringing together a community that has never felt more divided.
La Bamba! combines Latin, R&B and timeless rock and pop to tell “the ultimate feel-good story of a young girl with a big voice, big dreams, and an even bigger heart”.
The full company will include Bethan Mitchell, Stefani Ariza, Julia Ruiz Fernandez, Nicolle Matheu, Gabriella Rose-Marchant, Alex Sturman, Tristan Ghostkeeper and Luke Jarvis.
La Bamba! is directed by multi-award-winning American director Ray Roderick and features choreography by Graziano Di Prima, Erica Da Silva and associate choreography by Giada Lini.
The soundtrack will span the Latin genre from traditional folk songs to chart-topping pop anthems, all arranged by award-winning Alfonso Casado-Trigo for “a fiesta of a lifetime”.
Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees in York are on sale at atgtickets.com.york.
CORONATION Street star and Dancing On Ice finalist Faye Brookes is joining Kevin Clifton in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York, from Monday to Saturday.
The Manchester actress, 35, will be taking the lead female part of Fran opposite Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Clifton’s Scott Hastings in Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood’s production on tour until July 15.
“I’m so excited to be playing the role of Fran and making it my own. Bring it on!” says Faye, who last appeared on the York stage in the pink and perky role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical in August 2011.
“But I have been back to York since then because it’s so pretty, a great day out, wonderful cafés and restaurants, and the river.”
Faye, who became a household name after joining ITV soap opera Coronation Street to play Underworld packer and waitress Kate Connor from 2015-2019, is no stranger to musical theatre.
Not only starring in Legally Blonde, but also in Shrek The Musical in the role of Princess Fiona, in a tour that visited Leeds Grand Theatre in August 2014, and in Chicago, playing housewife, nightclub dancer and murderess Roxie Hart, visiting the Leeds theatre last May.
Now she adds Strictly Ballroom’s Fran to that list. “I was doing panto at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, playing Goldilocks – with Jason Donovan as the villain [the Evil Ringmaster] – when my agent called me to say Maisie Smith was scheduled to leave the tour in March.
“How would I feel about auditioning? ‘Great!’ I said. I knew Strictly Ballroom well from seeing the film in my childhood. I fell in love with the script and when I watched the film again, I was completely in awe of the dancing and bonkers, crazy comedy that Baz Luhrmann had done.”
Based on Luhrmann’s 1992 Australian romantic comedy, Strictly Ballroom The Musical follows the rocky path of arrogant, rebellious ballroom dancer Scott Hastings (Clifton).
When he falls out with the Australian Federation over his radical dance moves, he finds himself dancing with Fran (Brookes), a beginner with no moves at all. Inspired by one another, this unlikely pairing gathers the courage to defy both convention and families while discovering that, to be winners, the steps do not need to be strictly ballroom.
All important to the show is the chemistry in Scott and Fran’s tentative, then blossoming relationship on and off the dance floor. “I’ve got myself into the fittest shape possible and Kevin has taken me under his wing. He’s an absolute pro,” says Faye. “He’s been wanting to do this show ever since he was ten.”
Faye began rehearsals on March 8 before joining the itinerary from March 27. “I worked with Kevin while he was on the road as I followed the tour around the country,” says Faye, who relished the task of mastering her Australian accent too.
“To be fair, I do love taking on any challenge and doing accents is definitely one. I’ve always loved voices, and from watching Home And Away and Australian movies, my ear has picked up on the accent.
“What else I did, when I was doing drama at Guildford [School of Acting], was we had elocution lessons with a new accent every week.”
2021 brought her another challenge in the form of the ITV celebrity contest Dancing On Ice. “I’d never had any lessons before, but it just shows what you can do if you’re so committed to it,” says Faye, who finished as the runner-up.
“I was very lucky that I had no other commitments than the ice and I took to it like a duck to water, soaking it up like a sponge. With Strictly Ballroom, there is territory that I’ve done before [musicals], but I’ve never done ballroom dancing until now, though I have had to do ‘historical’ dancing before.”
Working with Australian-born director Craig Revel Horwood has been a thrill too. “He’s really taken the film and sought to re-create what Baz Luhrmann created in his first ever movie and put it on stage,” says Faye. “So there are moments that will remind people of that film, and for young people who aren’t familiar with it, I can say it’s action packed and you just have to jump on the train and ride!”
Combining a book by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce with a cast of more than 20, Strictly Ballroom The Musical brings to stage life such hits as Love Is In the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time with joyous verve, bolstered by songs by Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect in a show full of “scintillating singing, dazzling dancing and eye-popping costumes” under the glitterball.
“It’s a very explosive show where you go on this wonderful experience,” says Faye. “Take a leap of faith, go with your gut, and what a beautiful feeling you will have when you come out of the theatre.”
Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, April 24 to 29, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
DANCING On Ice finalist and Coronation Street star Faye Brookes is to join Kevin Clifton in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York, from April 24 to 29.
The Manchester actress, 35, will play the lead female role of Fran opposite Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Clifton’s Scott Hastings in Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood’s production, co-choreographed with Strictly creative director Jason Gilkison, on tour until July 15.
Faye will be taking over from 2020 Strictly joint runner-up Maisie Smith, who leaves the ten-month tour on March 25 after being on the road since September 26 last year.
Faye is no stranger to musical theatre, having starred as Roxie Hart in Chicago, Princess Fiona in Shrek and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical, appearing in that pink and perky role at the Grand Opera House in August 2011.
She became a household name after joining ITV soap opera Coronation Street to play Underworld packer and waitress Kate Connor, from 2015-2019. Taking on “some of the biggest storylines the show has seen”, Faye won the 2017 National Television Award for Best Newcomer. In 2021, she skated all the way to the runner-up position in the 13th series of ITV’s Dancing On Ice.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the tour of Strictly Ballroom and can’t wait to work with Craig Revel Horwood, Kevin Clifton and the hugely talented cast,” says Faye. “I’m so excited to be playing the role of Fran and making it my own. Bring it on!“
Welcoming her to the tour, Kevin Clifton says: “It’s very exciting news that Faye is joining the cast of Strictly Ballroom and I’m looking forward to singing and dancing my way across the UK and Ireland with her.“
Director Craig Revel Horwood says: “I am delighted to be directing the sensational Faye Brookes as she joins Kevin Clifton and the super-talented cast of Strictly Ballroom The Musical. I know that she’ll be nothing short of FAB-U-LOUS!”
Based on Luhrmann’s 1992 Australian romantic comedy film, Strictly Ballroom The Musical tells the beguiling story of Scott Hastings, a talented, arrogant and rebellious young ballroom dancer (played by former Strictly professional and 2018 champion Clifton).
When he falls out with the Australian Federation over his radical dance moves, he finds himself dancing with Fran (Brookes), a beginner with no moves at all. Inspired by one another, this unlikely pairing gathers the courage to defy both convention and families – and discover that, to be winners, the steps don’t need to be strictly ballroom.
Combining a book by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce with a cast of more than 20, Strictly Ballroom The Musical brings to stage life such songs as Love Is In the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time with joyous verve.
The tour also features new songs by Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect in a show full of “scintillating singing, dazzling dancing and eye-popping costumes”, plus heart, comedy and drama, under the glitterball.
This uplifting and courageous musical originated as a stage play that Baz Luhrmann devised with a group of classmates at Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1984.
Eight years later, he made his silver-screen directorial debut with Strictly Ballroom, the first instalment of his Red Curtain Trilogy, winning three awards at the 1993 BAFTAs and receiving a 1994 Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture. In April 2014, Strictly Ballroom The Musical had its world premiere at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, Australia.
Tickets for the York run can be booked at atgtickets.com/york.
DANCING On Ice winner Jake Quickenden and doyen of the musicals Darren Day are heading for York Theatre Royal in Footloose The Musical next week.
The show is based on the 1984 film, the one with such hits as Holding Out For A Hero, Almost Paradise, Let’s Hear It For The Boy and the title track, wherein American teenage city boy Ren McCormack is forced to move from Chicago to the rural backwater of Bomont after his father deserts him.
Things go from bad to worse when Ren finds out that dancing and rock music are banned there, but taking matters into his own hands, he soon has all hell breaking loose and the whole town on its feet.
In Racky Plews’s touring production for Selladoor Productions and Runaway Entertainment, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! contestant and Hollyoaks actor Quickenden plays lovable cowboy Willard Hewitt, while Day takes the role of Reverend Shaw Moore.
“I used to work as a bricklayer at the steelworks in Scunthorpe, where I was born, and Willard is a cowboy and a bit of a mechanic, so I can do the physical stuff,” says Jake, 33. “He’s fun to play; he’s quite stupid – I don’t have to get into character!
“It’s a fun, upbeat song-and-dance show, where everyone knows the words, and it’s all actor-musos, playing instruments, rather than just having a band.”
What’s your instrument? “I play the guitar on four or five songs. I’ve played the guitar for about nine years now, self-taught, starting when I was 23/24, doing it from YouTube,” says Jake, who also picked up Willard’s accent from watching a few TV shows and You Tube. “If I’m honest, I picked it up quite quickly when, as a northern lad, I normally don’t find accents that easy.”
Jake, who played the title role in Peter Pan at Blackpool Opera House, toured with The Dreamboys and starred in the 50th anniversary of Hair The Musical, is teaming up with Darren Day for the first time.
“I’d never met him before. He’s an absolute pleasure to work with ; he’s been around the block doling musicals for three decade, and I’ve been picking up a lot from him. He’s such a humble guy,” he says. “It’s really important for the young people in the cast, straight out of performing arts schools, to have the chance to work with him.”
Darren, 53, says of his latest role: “I’m so happy to be playing the Reverend. Over a decade ago, I met with the producers for Footloose and Chicago within about three months of each other. I was told I didn’t look old enough! So, the only downside of me playing these two roles back-to-back is that I must now look ‘old enough’.
“Since those meetings all those years ago, Billy Flynn and the Reverend have been on my bucket list of roles I desperately wanted to play, so to get the opportunity to play them both in one year is incredibly exciting for me and I feel deeply grateful.
“Having a teenage daughter myself in real life, I have a lot of ‘method’ experience to draw upon [for Reverend Moore]! It’s tough letting your ‘little princess’ out into the big bad world!”
Darren is revelling in being in Racky Plews’s touring show. “This production of Footloose is particularly special. Even if you have seen it before, you will want to see it again, and this new version will blow you away. It’s been reworked with a new set, new costumes. The lot,” he says.
“Racky has brought an edgy and exciting new take on the show. She’s been working closely with the writer of the original movie and songs, Dean Pitchford, and his input into this new production has been invaluable.”
Assessing what keeps Footloose both fresh and popular at the box office, Darren says: “The great thing about Footloose, which I think separates it from other ‘jukebox’ shows, is that Dean Pitchford wrote the songs specifically for the movie.
“So, not only are these songs instantly recognisable the second the intro begins, they also carry the plot forward in a very truthful way. Apologies for that sounding incredibly ‘arty’ and ‘theatrical’, but they do!
“In the show there are these massive hit tunes that everyone recognises, along with a strong and beautiful storyline. It’s a really feel-good show – no doubt about it.”
Meanwhile, Jake continues to enjoy taking on challenges, whether winning Dancing On Ice in 2018, heading to the Aussie jungle, doing musicals and pantomime or making his soap opera debut in Hollyoaks. “It was just a guest appearance in eight episodes, playing a character called Woody, and funnily enough he was a builder,” he says. Was he killed off? “No, he wasn’t! I’d love to go back.”
Now, Jake is riding out as cowboy Willard. “I love testing myself doing new things, giving everything a go once, and I’ve really loved doing musicals. Though I’ve done things where I might not do them again, like The Dreamboys [the male revue show]. I tried it, enjoyed it, but I’d like to move on. It didn’t push me to do what I want to do, but it’s good for keeping in shape!”
Footloose gotta cut loose at York Theatre Royal from March 29 to April 2 (not from March 28, as first announced). Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
DANCING On Ice three-time champion Dan Whiston will lead the company for Cinderella On Ice at Rawcliffe Country Park, York, from August 17 to 22.
“I cannot wait to get back on the ice and for the crowds to witness this amazing show after such a troubled past 12 months of lockdowns,” says Whiston, who partnered Emmerdale and The Syndicate star Gaynor Faye, Coronation Street’s Hayley Tamaddon and bronze medal-winning Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle to victories on the ITV show in 2006, 2010 and 2013 respectively.
“We hope to both wow and amaze,” he promises of the Fairytale On Ice production that will play to family audiences at seven locations with “some of the world’s most elite entertainers and skilled skaters after thousands of auditions”.
The touring show draw audiences into the magical world of Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming and the wicked sisters through a combination of high-speed ice-skating, music and visuals. Expect “breath-taking aerial feats, expertly choreographed routines and an enchanting storyline”.
Whiston, who has taken on the new role of Dancing On Ice’s associate creative director, will get his skates back on from August 3 to October 31 on the Cinderella On Ice tour, presented by the producers of Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White On Ice.
Tickets for the 4.30pm matinees and 7.30pm evening performances in the Fairtyale On Ice ice palace are on sale at fairytaleonice.com.