West End regular Killian Donnelly is to lead a cast packed with fresh talent when The Commitments opens in London this autumn.
Donnelly, who has appeared in London productions including The Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables and Billy Elliot The Musical, will have the opportunity to create a role in the West End for the first time when he plays arrogant lead singer Deco in Roddy Doyle’s tale of a Dublin soul band.
A West End veteran at just 29, Donnelly will undoubtedly have some sage advice for Denis Grindel, who will play the lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte. The former law degree student will make his West End debut in the eagerly-anticipated show and is currently balancing rehearsals with finishing his dissertation for the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Two of the three Commitmentettes, Stephanie McKeon and Jessica Cervi, also make their West End debuts in the production, though Cervi will be known to Irish TV viewers as a contestant on television casting show Fame – The Musical. She was joined in the show by the third Commitmentette, Sarah O-Connor, who’s previously played in the London casts of Les Mis and Mamma Mia!
Ben Fox (Backbeat), Mark Dugdale (We Will Rock You), Sean Kearns (The 39 Steps) and Matthew Wycliffe (Jersey Boys) add further West End experience to the cast that will also include Brian Gilligan, Andrew Linnie, former Blue Man Group performer Joe Woolmer and Padraig Dooney, who won his place in the cast at an open audition having only heard about it the day before.
Speaking about the cast, Roddy Doyle, who wrote both the original novel, the hit film and the new stage adaptation, said: “I’ve been sitting in rehearsals, watching these terrific young people becoming The Commitments. I’m hearing them sing; I’m watching them play their instruments – and it all makes me very happy and excited. What amuses me most is the fact that only one of them was born when I wrote the novel.”
The Commitments, which tells the story of the creation and troubles of finest soul band Dublin has ever produced, features a host of incredible songs ranging from Aretha Franklin’s Think to Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour and The Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.
The new stage adaptation, which is directed by Jamie Lloyd, whose acclaimed production of The Pride is currently running at the Trafalgar Studios, runs at the Palace theatre from 21 September.