TV judge, West End star and new mum Denise Van Outen is to return to the London stage on 25 October, when she joins Sheridan Smith in the cast of Legally Blonde The Musical.
Former Hollyoaks star Carley Stenson and talent show graduate Siobhan Dillon also join current cast members Peter Davison and Aoife Mulholland this autumn.
Van Outen, whose career has seen her rise from a morning TV weathergirl to a stage and screen actress with West End credits including Tell Me On A Sunday, Chicago and Rent, replaces Jill Halfpenny in the role of Paulette. Her recent TV work has seen her running the rule over West End wannabes in the Andrew Lloyd Webber-fronted shows I’d Do Anything and Any Dream Will Do. She met her husband, current Wicked star Lee Mead, on the search for a Joseph, which Mead won, and the musical theatre couple had baby Betsy in May.
Dillon got her big break on the other side of the TV talent show, making it to the final of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Though she lost out on that role, she made her West End debut as Patty in Grease, left the production to lead the UK tour of Cabaret, before returning to the tale of high school sweethearts to play leading lady Sandy. Legally Blonde The Musical sees Dillon reunite with fellow How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? runner up Mulholland.
Legally Blonde The Musical marks Stenson’s West End debut. The actress, who played Steph on Hollyoaks for more than a decade, has previously appeared outside London in productions of Grease, The Boyfriend and Oliver!.
Legally Blonde The Musical, which is inspired by the hit Reese Witherspoon film, opened at the Savoy theatre in January. It follows the exploits of homecoming queen Elle Woods who, when her boyfriend dumps her for someone serious, ditches the credit cards, picks up the books and heads for Harvard Law.
Sheridan Smith, who leads the cast, has extended her commitment to the production and will continue in the show until at least 9 January 2011.
Speaking about her decision, she said: “I absolutely love playing Elle Woods, it’s been one of the highlights of my career so far, and I’m thrilled that the audiences love the show as much as I do. When Sonia asked me to stay for a little bit longer, I couldn’t resist the thought of a pink, chihuahua-filled Christmas!”