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Rachel Tucker to join COME FROM AWAY cast on Broadway

Come From Away

It has been announced today that Rachel Tucker, who is leaving the four-time Olivier® Award-winning West End production of Come From Awaywill be joining the Tony® Award-winning Broadway production later this year.

Following an incredibly successful year in the West End, which has included receiving Best Supporting Actress nominations at the Olivier® and WhatsOnStage Awards, Rachel Tucker will be leaving the West End after her final performance on Saturday 8 February 2020. She will then go on to take over the roles of Beverley, Annette and others from Becky Gulsvig, at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, from Tuesday 3 March 2020.

Rachel Tucker’s Broadway debut came in March 2010 when she took over the role of Elphaba in Wicked, which she played for two and a half years at the Gershwin Theatre and then later reprised in 2015-2016. In between, she originated the principal character of Meg Dawson in Sting’s debut musical The Last Ship (Bank of America Theatre, Chicago/ Neil Simon Theatre, Broadway). She has toured venues in the UK and US with her own live performances and has released two solo albums.

This joyous musical tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded air passengers during the wake of 9/11, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed, and nerves ran high, but as uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

On 11 September 2001 the world stopped. On 12 September, their stories moved us all.

As previously announced, the new cast of Come From Away in the West End will start on Monday 10 February 2020, as the production enters into its second year at the Phoenix Theatre. The full company will include Jenna Boyd (Beulah and others), Tarinn Callender (Bob and others), James Doherty (Claude and others), Mary Doherty (Bonnie and others), Mark Dugdale (Kevin T/Garth and others), Alice Fearn (Beverley/Annette and others) Kate Graham (Diane and others), and Alasdair Harvey (Nick/Doug and others), Jonathan Andrew Hume (Kevin J/Ali and others), Harry Morrison (Oz and others), Emma Salvo (Janice and others) and Cat Simmons (Hannah and others) with Chiara BarontiRicardo Castro, Stuart Hickey, Alexander McMorran, Sorelle Marsh, Micha Richardson, Jennifer Tierney and Matthew Whennell-Clark.

Under the Musical Direction of Alan Berry (Keyboard/Accordion/Harmonium), the band includes Matt Bashford (Whistles/Irish Flute/Uilleann Pipes), Aoife Ní Bhriain (Fiddle), Oli Briant (Electric, Acoustic and Nylon Guitars), Ray Fean (Bodhrán/Percussion), Joey Grant (Electric Bass/Acoustic Bass), Justin Quinn (Acoustic Guitar/Mandolins/Bazouki) and Ian Whitehead (Drums/Percussion).

The multi award-winning musical continues sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, in Canada, in Australia and on a 60-city North American Tour. It has recently been announced that a tour of China will commence in Shanghai from May 2020, and a feature film adaptation is in the works.

Come From Away features a book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and is directed by Christopher Ashley, with musical staging by Kelly Devine, music supervision and arrangements by Ian Eisendrath, scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Gareth Owen, hair design by David Brian Brown, orchestrations by August Eriksmoen and casting by Pippa Ailion CDG and Natalie Gallacher CDG.

In addition to winning 4 Olivier Awards (London) including “Best New Musical”, Come From Away has scooped multiple awards all across North America:  the Tony Award for “Best Direction of a Musical”, 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding New Broadway Musical”, 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding Musical”, 4 Helen Hayes Awards (Washington DC) including “Outstanding Production of a Musical”, 4 Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, 4 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including “Excellence in Production of a Musical”, 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards including “Outstanding New Musical”, 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including “Best New Musical”, 3 Dora Awards (Toronto) including “Outstanding New Musical/Opera” and “Outstanding Production”, and the 2017 Jon Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Toronto).

Come From Away was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and presented in 2016 by Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC and Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, Canada, all in partnership with Junkyard Dog Productions. Come From Away (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle WA also provided development support.

Come From Away is produced in the UK by Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. The European premiere of Come From Away was co-produced with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre.

Summer season at Live At Zédel announcement

Live at Zedel

Live At Zédel, Soho’s unique live entertainment concept at Crazy Coqs, announces their new 2019 summer season produced in partnership with Fane Productions.

Andy Hornby, Head of Events says: “Crazy Coqs continues to establish itself as London’s art deco gem for international cabaret and live music. The season outlined below reflects the quality of shows that are both returning to Crazy Coqs and artists that are making their debut, and it is rewarding that more and more see Crazy Coqs as a platform to showcase their material. Our audience too continues to grow and become more diverse – a reflection of the density and breadth of the programme. This season, we are particularly proud to support the National Autistic Society in partnership with West End Wilma and some world-class guests, as well as supporting Pride In London with a incredible selection of LGBTQ-themed shows.”

Featuring over 200 shows, highlights of the 2019 summer season include a new partnership with West End Wilma that features a monthly afternoon chat show with the West End’s biggest names. The season starts in June with guests including Beverley Knight, Emma HattonRachel Tucker and Luke Bayer. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions and all profits raised from the series will be donated to the National Autistic Society, to help stage more Relaxed Performances of theatre shows.  The Crazy Coqs Presents… series with new solo shows just announced from Broadway’s Telly Leung (Glee, Aladdin) and West End stars Sophie Isaacs and Claudia Kariuki. Olivier Award nominated writers of SixToby Marlow and Lucy Moss will come to the venue forAn Evening with Marlow & Moss (LOL), in which they’re joined by the Queens from the hit show, currently running at Arts Theatre. New solo shows include Tony and Grammy Award winner John Lloyd Young, TV magician Ben HartHeathers’ T’Shan Williams, The Overtones’ Lockie Chapman, and the highly-anticipated return of cabaret royalty, Kit & McConnel.

Joe Stilgoe continues his annual weeklong residency this May with guests including Jason ManfordMeow MeowHarry Hill, Hadley Fraser, Liane Carroll andThe Mash Report’s Rachel Parris. London’s leading cabaret experts Black Cat return with ‘Salon des Artistes’ most Saturdays at 9.15pm and The Crazy Coqs Presents… curated by Mark Petty tackles a new music theme every last Sunday of the month. Other residencies include Bounder & Cad, Flo & Joan, Harold Sanditen’s Open Mic Party, Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique, Flanders & Swann, and Jay Rayner with his QuartetAlong with the continuation of the free of charge ‘Round Midnight events every Friday and Saturday, other musical acts coming this season include contemporary swing group Jack Pack, classical vocal crossover group Per Voi with special guest Lucy Kay, string quartet Bowjangles and classical artists Laura Wright and Piano Brothers.

 From across the pond, American female impersonator extraordinaire Randy Roberts is back by popular demand in June for a run of five shows of Randy Roberts Live! Tony nominee Charles Busch hosts an evening featuring the songs of Michael Legrand and Stephen Sondheim, and performer and daughter of Judy Garland, Lorna Luft returns to the venue for an extended run following a series of sold-out performances earlier this year. From further afield, Australian theatre star Michael Griffiths returns in August with his popular cabaret shows celebrating the music of Madonna, Kylie and Annie Lennox.

 From July, Crazy Coqs will host the return of The Big Smoke Festival which includes Mum’s The Word, a new honest and entertaining cabaret about the journey into motherhood by West End stars Lorna WantVivien Carter and Joanna Woodward. Other leading performers include Emma LindarsNick HayesGenevieve Nicole and Declan Egan each with their own solo cabarets.

Also in July, the venue celebrates Pride in London with shows from living fashion doll Clementine with Clementine’s Liberty Special: A Star-Spangled Rainbow, Crazy Coqs’ favourite La Voix, and Mark Farrelly’s acclaimed one-man play Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope.

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Rachel Tucker: ‘Come From Away will soothe your soul and lift your heart.’

‘My favourite start to my working day and I’m only allowed one of them – is a triple shot americano,’ grins Rachel Tucker.

I follow her lead and order one for myself at the Pret on Shaftesbury Avenue – just off Cambridge Circus where we meet.

It’s a joy interviewing Tucker; a unique combination of quirkiness and elegance.

She found fame on the BBC tv talent series I’d Do Anything ten years ago and has since starred in The Last Ship alongside Sting, blown our minds as Elphaba in Wicked, in London and on Broadway, released solo albums and more.

Now Tucker is starring in Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s folksy musical Come From Away. She believes that the core of the story is ‘looking out for one another, doing what is right’ and ‘like a medicine for the soul.’ The show tells the tale of 7,000 stranded air passengers amid the chaos of 9/11 and the tiny town in Newfoundland that took them in.

In a 12-strong ensemble, Tucker plays Beverley Bass – the first female captain for American Airlines. Through slick staging and manoeuvring the show recreates a plane full of passengers using limited props; including a rubber cod, a mop and rearranged chairs. Come From Away’s greatest triumph is to set complex lyrics drawn from tragic circumstances to a show about the citizens of Gander during 9/11, where all domestic flights were grounded across the US following a terrorist attack.

The show opened in January in Dublin ahead of its West End transfer and is in great shape. ‘They knew what they were doing – they knew the process in Dublin was the start of the maturity point of the show,’ she says. ‘Dublin was so helpful to find the groove and learn the moves. It takes time to embed it in our body and our minds and souls. It’s taken me 3 months to learn how to sing ‘Me and The Sky’ like that! Our rehearsal process was very intense – we had to get the chair choreography into our brains – at first, we didn’t feel very artistic doing it. But there is a method to the madness – and they’d been through it a few times before in previous productions. The pressure was immense, though.’

It makes sense, then, that Come from Away recently received nine nominations for the 2019 Olivier awards, and Tucker has been nominated in the best actress in a supporting role in a musical category. Up against her, in a ridiculously strong category, are Patti LuPone for Company; Ruthie Ann Miles for The King and I; and the six ‘queens’ for their turn as Henry VIII’s wives.

Where was she when she found out? ‘Do you know what?’ she says. ‘I was in my bed, at home alone and watching Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes Netflix series on my laptop and my phone went berserk,’ Tucker smiles.

‘Honestly, Carl, just receiving this nomination, I feel like I’ve accomplished something that I’ve always dreamed about. This – for where I’m at in my life, in my career and alongside my ambitions – I could cry now thinking about it.’

We discuss the recent controversy surrounding Seyi Omooba, the performer who said that homosexuality was not ‘right’ in a Facebook post and is no longer part of the upcoming Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome’s production of The Color Purple.

‘Oh dear’, Tucker begins.

‘If you have strong opinions that might offend other people – keep them to yourself,’ she says. ‘Go home and tell your mum or your church. It’s up to you if you have those beliefs and you choose to do a job that represents the exact opposite. I’m really not sure how you reconcile that morally… Especially in this climate – it’s a tricky playing field and in the arts, which is a place that presents itself as inclusive and liberal. It’s really unfortunate that this has happened.’

At one point, we talk about west end ticket prices. ‘When I look out to the audience every night it is a sea of white Caucasian, middle class human beings. I wish I could change it,’ she begins. ‘It upsets me that it is always a sea of white faces and that it’s not shifted any further, especially for our show,’ Tucker affirms.

She doesn’t mind being asked about the challenges of childcare and being a working parent. This topic is nothing new yet the attitudes toward parenting are slowly changing. ‘Listen, I don’t love people getting on their high horse – the young woman who does my hair at the Phoenix Theatre is thinking about starting a family – or when to- and often asks me how I managed and manage it,’ she says. ‘It’s hard. But if my experience can help somebody then that’s amazing. Therefore, talking about childcare, for me, is essential. My husband in fact, does more of the childcare – so personally it isn’t restricted to being a woman thing.’

So, what could theatre do to support parents and carers? ‘Childcare is not cheap,’ she says. ‘But what if there was something like West End Day Care during the two show days and Equity paid half and we paid half? A scheme to help men and women to mind their kids so that we can do our shows. I’d love that to happen!’

Who inspires her? ‘Shoshana Bean,’ she replies. ‘She is incredible – I listen to her album on the way in and out of work every day. Her passion for the industry and for giving back is so incredible. Plus, she’s generous. Shoshana really is a one-woman band and I admire that. Someone who went from a regular Broadway performer to establishing herself as a household name. She is the biggest inspiration right this second to me,’ she smiles.

Tucker hopes that we all get behind Come From Away. She adores the show, adding that she believes that she has ‘the privilege of telling this story night after night – a true story – I know how much of an inspiration this story is to so many and what this means to our audiences –I hold that very close to my heart. I love it.’

She ends by reiterating that this new musical really is for everyone. ‘I promise that Come From Away will soothe your soul and lift your heart. It is a reminder that there is still goodness and kindness within us all.’

‘You will leave with a full heart and you will want to speak to your neighbour and you will want to be a better person,’ Tucker insists.

What a woman.

Come From Away is at Phoenix theatre, London, until March 2020.

#WeAllComeFromAway