Announcing UK workshops of a major new musical Benny & Joon based on the 1993 Johnny Depp movie

Announcing UK workshops of a major new musical
Benny & Joon

A story about love, family and the power of a great grilled cheese
based on the 1993 Johnny Depp movie

2 first-look 75-minute showcase performances open to the public
Monday 14 & Tuesday 15 November at The Other Palace

Benny & Joon is a delightful new musical comedy based on the beloved hit film. Sweetly romantic and genuinely touching, it tells the story of Joon, an eccentric young woman, her protective older brother, and the charming and whimsical Sam, whose exuberant love for Joon changes them forever.

With his perfect impressions of Buster Keaton and his playful spirit, Sam shows Benny and Joon a new way to see the world.  It is a moving love story full of magic and madness, unforgettable characters and a beguiling score.

Benny & Joon
, Book by Kirsten Guenther, Music by Nolan Gasser, Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, explores what happens when we step out of our comfort zone and take a leap toward love.

As it prepares for an expected UK premiere, two 75-minute first-look workshop performances of Benny & Joon will take place at 5pm on Monday 14 November and 3pm on Tuesday 15 November. Tickets go on sale today at The Other Palace with £10 seats available to the public.

The cast features:

Christine Allado (Ruthie)
She was Tzipporah in ‘Prince Of Egypt’ (Dominion Theatre), Peggy/Maria Reynolds u/s Eliza Hamilton in the original West End cast of ‘Hamilton’ (Victoria Palace) and u/s Imelda Marcos in ‘Here Lies Love’ at the National Theatre.

George Blagden (Sam)
He was Presley Stray in Jamie Lloyd’s production of ‘The Pitchfork Disney’ (Shoreditch Town Hall) and on TV played Louis XIV, the lead, in three series of ‘Versailles’ and Athelstan in three series of ‘Vikings’.

Hannah Elless (Joon)
Hannah starred on Broadway as Margo Crawford in Steve Martin’s musical ‘Bright Star’ (Cort Theatre) and most recently originated the role of Jess in Jack Thorne’s Tony award-winning Broadway adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Lyceum Theatre).

Jak Malone (Waldo)
Jak was Hester in ‘Operation Mincemeat’ (New Diorama, Southwark Playhouse/Riverside Studios), Dim in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (Everyman Theatre, Liverpool) and Draper in ‘Terrible Tales of Horrible Horror’ (Hope Street Theatre).

Landi Oshinowo (Dr. Cruz)
She is currently playing Mrs Phelps in ‘Matilda the Musical’ at the Cambridge Theatre. She was Jarene in ‘The Color Purple’ (Leicester Curve) and Nell in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Southwark Playhouse).

Simon-Anthony Rhoden (Mike)
Simon is currently playing Aaron Burr in ‘Hamilton’ (Victoria Palace) and was Lola in ‘Kinky Boots’ (Adelphi).He was Robert Catesby in‘ Treason – Concert’ (Theatre Royal Drury Lane ). On TV he was Diana in two series of ‘Temple’ on SKY.

Andrew Samonsky (Benny)
Andrew originated the role of Benny in the US (Old Globe). His Broadway/NY credits  include Lt Cable in ‘South Pacific Live’ (PBS), Neville in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, Ormisten in ‘Scandalous’ and Frank Russell in ‘Queen of the Mist’ (Drama Desk nomination).

Eric Stroud (Larry)
Eric was Dominic in ‘101 Dalmatians’ (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Watson in ‘Baskerville’ (Mercury, Colchester) and Narrator in ‘The Snow Queen’ (Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford).

Creative team:
Jack Cummings III – Director
Jack is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of New York’s award-winning Transport Group Theatre Company. He is a five-time Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Director, Audelco Award nominee for Best Director of a Musical, and two-time Obie Award winner for Directing.

J. Oconer Navarro – Musical Director
He was Music Director for ‘Benny & Joon’ at The Old Globe and Paper Mill Playhouse. J. is Head of Music and Vocal Performance at The New Studio on Broadway at NYU-Tisch.

Scott Rink – Choreographer
Off-Broadway credits: ‘Once Upon A Mattress’, ‘Three Days to See’, ‘Queen Of The Mist’, ‘Hello Again’, ‘Being Audrey’, ‘Crossing Brooklyn’, ‘Songs For a New World’, ‘Nor’mal’, (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cummings III).

Will Burton – Casting Director
Will is one half of Grindrod Burton Casting and was the casting director of Olivier Award-winning
‘Matilda’, ‘In the Heights’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’

Kirsten Guenther – Writer (Book)
Kirsten is the recipient of a Richard Rodgers Award,Rockefeller Grant, Dramatist Guild Fellowship, Johnny Mercer Writers Fellowship, and a Lincoln Center Honorarium. She has written several stage musicals including the book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-it (as seen on NBC); and the book for Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award) directed by Michael Greif, starring Jane Krakowski.

Nolan Gasser  – Composer
Nolan is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist – notably, the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. His original compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, among other prestigious venues. Theatrical projects include the musical ‘Benny & Joon’ and the San Francisco Opera- commissioned ‘The Secret Garden’.

Mindi Dickstein – Lyricist
Mindi is an award-winning lyricist, librettist, and playwright. She is best known as the lyricist for the Broadway musical ‘Little Women’ (licensed by MTI), Original Broadway Cast Album released by Sh-k-boom/Ghostlight Records), with music by Jason Howland and book by Allan Knee.

Larry Hirschhorn – Producer
His Broadway credits include: ‘Hadestown’ (Tony Award), ‘Torch Song’, ‘Indecent’, ‘On Your Feet’, ‘The Elephant Man’ (with Bradley Cooper, Drama Desk Award); ‘Gentleman’s Guide’ (Tony Award); ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ (Tony Award); ‘Hair’ (Tony Award), ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’.

Aria Entertainment – General Manager
Aria Entertainment was founded in 2012 by Producer Katy Lipson. In 10 years, she has produced over 70 productions in the West End, Off-West End and across the UK.  She most recently produced the World Première of Jack Holden’s ‘Cruise’ (Duchess Theatre) which was nominated for a 2022 Oliver Award for the Best New Play and which returned to the West End in August 2022 for a limited season at the Apollo Theatre. Other recent productions include, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (UK Tour), Zorro – The Musical and Broken Wings (Charing Cross Theatre), the West End transfer of The Last Five Years (Garrick Theatre) and A-Typical Rainbow (Turbine Theatre). Current projects include: The Osmonds and The Cher Show (UK Tours); From Here to Eternity (CharingCross Theatre) and Claus – The Musical (The Lowry, Salford).


Benny & Joon
Based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
motion picture
written by Barry Berman and Leslie McNeil

2 workshop performances

Monday 14 November at 5pm
Tuesday 15 November at 3pm

The Other Palace
12 Palace Street

Tickets: £10