Kerry Ellis will succeed Jodie Prenger as Nancy in Oliver!

According to the Daily Mail, Jodie Prenger will give her last performance as Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver! on March 27th, after which former Wicked star and Award winner Kerry Ellis will take over the part.

Kerry is probably best known in the West End for playing the role of green coloured witch, Elphaba in the hit musical, Wicked at the Apollo Victoria having taken over from American, Idina Menzel.  She made her Broadway debut in the same role in the Stephen Schwartz musical the year before.

Her other musical credits include Queen’s We Will Rock You, in which she originated the role of Meatloaf. Queen’s Brian May is producing Ellis’ first full-length – due to be released next summer – for which he’s also written songs with Don Black.

Oliver! opened, with the West End’s largest-ever advance of £15 million, on 14 January 2009 (previews from 12 December) and is currently booking through to 27 February 2010 (See WOS TV, 15 Jan 2009). Based on Charles Dickens’ literary classic Oliver Twist and, beyond its theatre fanbase, Lionel Bart’s musical found legions of fans from the 1968 film version. The score includes now-famous songs including “Consider Yourself”, “It’s a Fine Life”, “As Long as He Needs Me”, “Oom-pah-pah”, “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything” and the title song.


Girl of the Week: Brandi Burkhardt

Brandi Lynn Burkhardt was born June 25, 1982. Brandi is an American vocalist, actress and beauty queen. She grew up in Pasadena, Maryland but currently lives in New York City.

She toured the country in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, in the Jekyll and Hyde-Ressurection Tour. Her Broadway debut came when she was cast as Lucie Manette in the Broadway musicaladaptation of A Tale of Two Cities which opened for previews on August 19, 2008 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New Yorkand had an official opening of September 18, 2008. The production announced on November 4 that it would be closing on November 16, but the producers announced on November 7 that due to poor ticket sales the following week, the production would close on November 9, 2008. She was connected to Wonderland: Alice’s New Musical Adventure by Frank Wildhorn, and sang the role of Alice on one of the demos, but is no longer connected to the production.

She had recently played Sophie Sheridan in the Broadway production of Mamma Mia. She began her run on January 27, 2009 replacing Allison Case. Burkhardt played her final performance on September 20, 2009 and was succeeded by Alyse Alan Louis.

After touring the country in the musical Jekyll and Hyde, with the Ressurection Cast in concert form, Burkhardt joined the cast of the NBC daytime drama Passions as the mysterious Siren, a mermaid now living on land. She is also seen in the film Confessions of a Shopaholic, as a “Sample Sales Woman.” She was persauded by co-star James Stacy Barbour to audition for A Tale of Two Cities. The two knew each other from an unreleased commercial concept album of Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula, the musical.

Secret Wish: That she had saved her Mamma -Mia wedding dress for us!

FELA! Opens tonight on Broadway

Fela!, the new musical based on the life and music of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, will open on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street) tonight.

With performances already begun on Monday, October 19, this new musical is directed and choreographed by Tony® Award-winner Bill T. Jones(Spring Awakening), with a book by Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones. Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo will play the title character on alternate performances, while the world renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of AaRon Johnson, will again perform Kuti’s rousing music live onstage. W

Tickets for Fela! on Broadway are available through or by calling (212) 239-6200.

Girl of the Week: Zooey Deschanel

ooey Claire Deschanel is an American actress, musician and singer-songwriter. In 1999, Deschanel made her film debut in Mumford and soon became known for her deadpan supporting roles in films such as Almost Famous (2000) and The New Guy (2002). She then began playing lead roles in films, including All the Real Girls (2003), Eulogy (2004),Winter Passing (2005), Tin Man (2007), Flakes (2007), Yes Man (2008), (500) Days of Summer (2009), and Gigantic (2009).

Since 2001, Deschanel has performed in the jazz cabaret act If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies with fellow actress Samantha Shelton. She plays keyboards, percussion, banjo and ukulele. She has sung in several of her films, and her debut album Volume One (recorded withM. Ward under the moniker She & Him) was released on March 18, 2008.

Deschanel appeared in a guest role on the television series Veronica’s Closet before making her film debut in Lawrence Kasdan’s 1999 comedyMumford, and later in the year she appeared in the music video for The Offspring’s single “She’s Got Issues”. In her second film, director Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical Almost Famous (2000), Deschanel played Anita Miller, the protagonist’s rebellious older sister. The film received critical praise,but was not a box office success. Deschanel continued to sing, and in 2001 formed If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies, a jazz cabaret act with fellow actress Samantha Shelton.The pair performed around Los Angeles. Deschanel played supporting roles in a series of films that includedManic (2001), with Don Cheadle and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Big Trouble (2002), with Tim Allen and Rene Russo Abandon (2002) alongside Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt and Melanie Lynskey, and The Good Girl (2002) alongside Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal. In late 2002, The New York Times reported that Deschanel was “one of Hollywood’s most sought-after young stars,”and the Los Angeles Times wrote in early 2003 that Deschanel had become a recognizable type, due to “her deadpan, sardonic and scene-stealing [film] performances” as the protagonist’s best friend. Deschanel objected to her typecasting, arguing, “A lot of these roles are just a formula idea of somebody’s best friend, and it’s like, I don’t even have that many friends. In high school, I stayed home all the time, so I don’t know how I’m everybody’s best friend now.”

Deschanel turned down several supporting roles and played her first lead role in All the Real Girls (2003). Deschanel’s performance as Noel, a sexually curious 18-year-old virgin who has a life-changing romance with an aimless 22-year-old, received critical praise, and she received an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Actress. Later in 2003, Deschanel played a deadpan department store worker opposite Will Ferrell in the comedy Elf, which became a box office hit.

Deschanel appeared in Frasier, starring as Roz’s out of control cousin, Jen.

In 2002, Deschanel appeared in The New Guy as Nora, the guitar player in the lead character’s band, Suburban Funk. The New Guy was the first of Deschanel’s films in which she sang onscreen; in Elf she duetted with Ferrell in the bathroom shower scene on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, and was also heard singing it on the soundtrack with Leon Redbone. Subsequently, Deschanel has sung in Winter Passing (“My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean”), the 2005 television musical Once Upon a Mattress (“An Opening For a Princess,” “In a Little While,” “Normandy,” and “Yesterday I Loved You”), an old cabaret song in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the 2007 short film Raving (“Hello, Dolly!”). Her piano composition “Bittersuite” was used thematically in the dark, off-beat 2004 dramedy Winter Passing, in which she starred alongside Ferrell and Ed Harris.

In 2004, Deschanel starred in Eulogy, and in 2005 as Trillian in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams’ science fiction novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Deschanel then playedSarah Jessica Parker’s neurotic roommate in Failure to Launch (2006), and appeared on four episodes of the Showtime television series Weeds from 2006 to 2007, playing Andy Botwin’s quirky ex-girlfriend, Kat. In September 2006, Variety announced that Deschanel would play 1960s singer Janis Joplin in the film The Gospel According to Janis, to be co-written and directed by Penelope Spheeris. Deschanel planned to sing all of Joplin’s songs, and took four months of singing lessons “to approximate Joplin’s gritty vocals.” The film, scheduled to begin shooting on November 13, 2006, was postponed indefinitely.

In 2007, Deschanel appeared in two children’s films, Bridge to Terabithia and the animated film Surf’s Up, in which she voiced a penguin named Lani Aliikai. In December 2007, she played DG, the lead in the new Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man, a re-imagined science fiction version of L. Frank Baum’s children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

In March 2007, Deschanel contributed vocals to two songs “Slowly” and “Ask Her To Dance” on the album Nighttiming by Jason Schwartzman’s bandCoconut Records. In May 2007, singer/songwriter M. Ward, who had previously performed with Deschanel onstage, said that he was “just finishing work” on her debut album, which will feature songs written by Deschanel and produced by Ward. Fox reported that Deschanel and Ward were recording under the moniker She & Him, and that the album, titled Volume One, would be released by Merge Records on March 18, 2008.

On April 27, 2008, she appeared on The Simpsons, playing the role of Mary, Cletus’s daughter.

In June 2008, Deschanel starred opposite Mark Wahlberg in M. Night Shyamalan’s environmental thriller The Happening.

In December 2008, Deschanel starred in the comedy film Yes Man, opposite Jim Carrey. She sings several songs featured in the film and is shown singing Uh-Huh and Sweet Ballad alongside San Franciscan all-girl electro soul-punk group Von Iva in a band called Munchausen by Proxy.

Deschanel currently stars as the title character in the popular romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer, opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt (for a second time after Manic). The film is directed by long-time commercial and music video director Marc Webb.Deschanel will guest star in an upcoming Christmas episode of Bones as Brennan’s never-before-seen cousin. In the first-ever on-screen pairing of the Deschanel sisters, Zooey will play Margaret Whitesell, a distant relative of Emily’s Dr. Temperance Brennan. Brennan’s father, Max Keenan (guest starRyan O’Neal), invites Margaret to spend Christmas with him and his daughter. In 2010, Deschanel will play Belladonna in the upcoming fantasy comedy film, Your Highness.

Deschanel became engaged to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie on December 28, 2008. They married in September 2009.


Mamma Mia! UK BBC Children in Need

Fans of MAMMA MIA! can become a Super Trouper for the night at one in the West End, while raising money for BBC Children in Need with BBC London 94.9FM’s special gala performance of the hit musical at the Prince of Wales Theatre on Wednesday November 18.

Guaranteed to get you in the mood for dancing in the aisles are BBC London’s 94.9FM Breakfast show presenters Paul Ross and JoAnne Good, as well as Sony Award-winning morning show presenter Vanessa Feltz and afternoon host Danny Baker, who are all delighted to be introducing this fun-packed gala performance. All money raised will go towards helping disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. The dress code for this very special red carpet performance is ‘glamorous’ so attendees are encouraged to get their glad rags and dancing shoes on.

via BBW