Jason Gardiner, Lara Denning, Kim Maresca, Harriet Thorpe and Tracie Bennett join the company of Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s award-winning all female character camp killer cult classic Ruthless! The Musical for its strictly limited 14-week run at the Arts Theatre. The children alternating the role of Tina Denmark will be announced shortly. The musical has played Off-Broadway to critical acclaim over the past 25 years. This brand new production, directed by Richard Fitch, opens on 27 March, with previews from 16 March, and runs until 23 June.
How far would you go to get what you want?
Ruthless! The Musical tells the story of the beautiful and talented 8-year-old Tina Denmark who will do anything to play the lead in her school play… ANYTHING!
Ruthless! started Off-Broadway 25 years ago and discovered young performers including Britney Spears and Natalie Portman. The show famously spoofs Broadway musicals from Gypsy to Mame as well as iconic films including The Bad Seed and All About Eve.
Joel Paley (Book and Lyrics) directed the first production of Ruthless! at the Players Theater which won the 1993 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, and for which he won the Drama Desk Award as Best Lyricist. He has directed many highly acclaimed productions including New York (Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk nominee for Best Director), South Beach, Florida (Carbonell Award winner for Best Director and Best Musical Production), the original Los Angeles production as well as the record-breaking concert production starring Bernadette Peters. He conceived and staged an all-singing, all-dancing showroom parody for Bob Newhart in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Atlantic City; creating dances for Maude starring Bea Arthur; and writing (with Laird) and staging the opening production sequence of the Academy Award-nominated short film, A Different Approach, featuring physically challenged performers dancing in wheelchairs. He also directed the all-female national tour of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple starring Barbara Eden, Rita McKenzie and Georgia Engel.
Marvin Laird (Music) began his career on Broadway in the early 1960s writing dance and vocal arrangements. Years of TV scoring (Dynasty, Love Boat, Laverne & Shirley), movie arranging (Hello, Dolly!, New York, New York) and creating/conducting Las Vegas acts – including for Diana Ross, Juliet Prowse, Ann-Margret, Mama Cass Elliot, Goldie Hawn and Bernadette Peters, followed. Most recently, he conducted the Broadway productions of Follies, Gypsy and Annie Get Your Gun. Additionally, he has been music director and conductor for Bernadette Peters’ international concert appearances and night club act for over 40 years, and is currently Associate Conductor on Hello Dolly! accompanying her.
Jason Gardiner plays Sylvia St. Croix. Originally from Melbourne, he is a television broadcaster, performer and choreographer – he is currently a judge in the popular ITV series Dancing on Ice. He began his professional career in the original Australian cast of 42nd Street at the age of 16, and has since gone on to perform in over 20 award-winning musicals including West Side Story, Cats, Dames At Sea, Oklahoma, Anything Goes, Chicago, Pippin and My Fair Lady. As a choreographer he has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names including Pink, Dame Shirley Bassey, Kylie, Cher, Bjork, Roseanne Barr and Sir Elton John. His choreography received critical praise for the Raindance Film Festival favourite, Meet Pursuit Delange. His other television presenting roles have included ITV’s This Morning as their fashion presenter, culture expert on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy UK, a permanent panellist on Ultimate Shopper for TLC Network and the UK presenter on Red Carpet Moments for E! Entertainment.
Tracie Bennett plays Lita. Her theatre work includes Follies (National Theatre); and in the West End, Mrs Henderson Presents, End of the Rainbow (also Broadway – winner of Outer Critics’ Circle and Drama Desk awards; and Olivier and Tony Award nominations), La Cage aux Folles, Hairspray – Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Les Misérables, She Loves Me – Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical. Other theatre work includes The Hypochondriac (Theatre Royal Bath), Sex, Chips & Rock ’n’ Roll – TMA Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical (Royal Exchange Manchester), Carousel, Billy Liar (ATG), High Society (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), and Guys and Dolls, Educating Rita, Spring Awakening (Sheffield Theatre). For television, her work includes Scott & Bailey, Burn It, New Tricks, Candy Cabs, Dalziel and Pascoe, Vincent, The Royal, The Long Firm, MIT: Murder Investigation Team, Heroes and Villains, Keen Eddie, Where the Heart Is, Coronation Street (as series regular Sharon Bentley), Heartbeat, The Gingerbread Girl, Joking Apart, The Upper Hand, Rich Tea and Sympathy, Making Out; and for film, Shirley Valentine, Deep Red Instant, Knights and Emeralds.
Lara Denning plays Louise Lerman/Eve. Her theatre work includes Scrooge the Musical (Curve), The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ – The Musical (Menier Chocolate Factory), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Matilda (Cambridge Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (European tour), Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, All The Fun of the Fair, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, Dirty Dancing in Concert (UK tours) and Can Can (Sadlers Wells). Her television work includes Toast of London.
Kim Maresca plays Judy Denmark, reprising the role she played Off Broadway in the most recent run of Ruthless! The Musical. She recently played her fifth sold-out engagement of her one-woman show at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Regional: Twelfth Night (Westport Country Playhouse), Biondella in The Taming of the Shrew (Saratoga Shakespeare Company) and Maureen in Rent (Thomaston Opera House).
Harriet Thorpe plays Myrna Thorn. She is perhaps best known for her role as Carole in the BBC’s popular Brittas Empire and Fleur in Absolutely Fabulous. Her West End credits include Great Britain (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Pravda, The Government Inspector, All My Sons, A Prayer for Owen Meany (National Theatre), Wicked (Apollo Theatre), Rufus Norris’ production of Cabaret (Lyric Theatre, UK tour and Savoy Theatre), Crazy for You (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Novello Theatre), Tanya in Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales Theatre), Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, The Vagina Monologues and Jackie O. Other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Cymbeline (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Street Car to Tennessee (Young Vic), Brighton Rock (Almeida Theatre) and Calendar Girls (Phoenix Theatre). Work with French and Saunders includes Girls on Top, French And Saunders series and most recently Vivienne Vyle. Other television work includes The Secrets: The Conversation, Material Girl, Victoria Wood’s Christmas Special and The Musketeers. Films include Absolutely Fabulous The Movie, Maurice, Greystroke, Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet, Zefferelli’s Toscanni, Suzie Gold, Calendar Girls, The Calling, S.N.U.B., An Arm’s Length, Wise Girl and The Lady in the Van.
Richard Fitch trained at the Young Vic and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. As a director, his credits include Top Hat (Arts Educational), Funny Girl (UK tour – also Associate Director for the runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Savoy Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Theatr Clwyd), Much Ado About Nothing (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), Barnes’ People (Trafalgar Transformed), Serious Heroes, Twenty Four Hour Plays (The Old Vic), A Kid Like Jake (The TS Eliot US/UK Exchange, The Old Vic), The Moment Before I’m Powerful (Trafalgar Transformed), Land’s End (Birmingham REP), Last Man on the Heygate (Lyric Hammersmith), The Hour of Feeling (HighTide Festival with Public Theater, New York), The Welsh Atlantis (Latitude Festival) and The Boy Who Lived Down the Lane (Riverside Studios & Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore).
The Menier Chocolate Factory will act as Executive Producer and General Manager for the UK première.
Ruthless! The Musical Listings:
Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB