Olivier Award-winning actor Tracie Bennett, who captivated audiences as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow and stopped the show with her performance of “I’m Still Here” in the National Theatre revival of Follies last year, will take on the role of Mame Dennis in Mame at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester next year.
The production marks the first major revival of the musical, about a wealthy New York eccentric who takes her orphaned ten-year-old nephew under her gilded wing, since its 1969 West End premiere. Nick Winston will direct the run from September 27 through November 9.
Hope Aria Productions, who oversees programming at the Hope Mill Theatre, will launch its season March 2 with a newly revised adaptation of Rags, the short-lived 1986 Broadway musical by composer Charles Strouse (Annie), featuring lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and a book by Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof).
The musical about the Jewish immigrant experience ran for only 22 performances, but is remembered for its sweeping and melodic Tony-nominated score. In the 30 years since its premiere, the show’s writers have reunited on several occasions to test new versions of the script and score, though a major revival has yet to materialize. The Hope Mill Theatre staging will debut their latest effort in a new production directed by Bronagh Lagan, which is produced in association with Matthew Hopton of Knockhardy Productions.
"I'm delighted that Katy Lipson and Hope Mill Theatre will be presenting our newly revised version of Rags in its first production,” Schwartz said in a statement. “The show feels more timely than it ever has been, and my co-authors and I are enthusiastic about all the improvements we have made and excited to be sharing the show with the Manchester audience."
Closing the season from November 22–December 29 will be a new musical from Allan Knee, whose play The Man Who Was Peter Pan was adapted into the Miramax film Finding Neverland. The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit takes inspiration from Dickens’ characters to tell the tale of a young man who sets out to find his place in an expanding and volatile world. Music and lyrics are by newcomer Andre Catrini, with direction by Jonathan O’Boyle. The premiere is presented in association with Jana Robbins, Craig Haffner, and Sherry Wright.