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Thorpe takes on Wicked duties

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 17 April 2008

Harriet Thorpe is to replace Susie Blake as witchy headmistress Madame Morrible in Wizard Of Oz-based musical extravaganza Wicked, from 14 April.

Thorpe’s face may be familiar due to her numerous television roles, notably in comedy series The Brittas Empire, French & Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous and Murder Most Horrid, plus film roles including the WI head in Calendar Girls. On stage, Thorpe has recently been seen playing Fraulein Kost in Rufus Norris’s production of Cabaret at the Lyric. Her extensive London stage credits include work for the National Theatre, Open Air, Young Vic and Almeida, plus appearances in Les Misérables, Jackie and Under The Doctor in the West End.

In Wicked, Thorpe joins a cast that includes Kerry Ellis as Elphaba and Dianne Pilkington as Glinda, Oliver Tompsett as Fiyero and Nigel Planer as the Wizard. Originally a hit on Broadway, this show opened at London’s Apollo Victoria in September 2006. Based on the book by Gregory Maguire, the story centres on the two witches from L Frank Baum’s story The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz and imagines the events preceding Dorothy’s adventure to the Emerald City.

In other casting news, Danish theatre star Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and homegrown musical theatre actress Rachel McDowall join the cast of Chicago at the Cambridge as incarcerated showgirls Roxie and Velma.

Sørensen is an experienced actress in Denmark, where she has already played Roxie in the Copenhagen production of Chicago. McDowall, who slips into Velma’s fishnets at the Cambridge, played the role of Ulla in the West End production of The Producers, after being promoted from the chorus.

Glitzy musical Chicago, which has been running in the West End for 10 years, follows fame-hungry showgirl Roxie Hart, who is charged with murdering her lover. Waiting for her trial in jail alongside fellow alleged-murderess Velma Kelly, Roxie enlists the services of flashy lawyer Billy Flynn to spring her from the clanger and make her famous. em>CB


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