Seventies pop pin-up David Essex returns to Manchester in the new year in his self-penned musical All the Fun of the Fair, which is named after his top-selling 1975 album and features many of his greatest hits (See News, 1 Apr 2008).

All the Fun of the Fair premiered in September 2008 at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre and has already toured extensively. It also transferred to the West End’s Garrick Theatre in 2010.

Essex is no stranger to musical theatre. His big break came in 1971 when, as a 23-year-old newcomer he was cast as Jesus in the original London production of Godspell. Other roles have included Fletcher Christian in Mutiny! (which he also co-wrote) and Che in the original cast of Evita, which gave him a top 3 hit in 1978 (“Oh What a Circus”). His more recent musical credits include Footloose in the West End and Aspects of Love on tour. He also recently played Alife Moon's dad - Eddie in Eastenders.

Set against the backdrop of a travelling funfair, All the Fun of the Fair tells the story of widower and funfair owner Levi Lee (Essex), who’s coming to terms with the loss of his wife and battling the attentions of a newly-divorced woman. He’s also struggling to deal with his rebellious teenage son’s tangled love life, and the gloomy predictions of a gypsy fortune-teller.

The musical is co-written by Jon Conway, the creator of Boogie Nights, who has previously said that the idea was born when he worked with Essex on Boogie Nights 2 in 2005. “My first thought, especially given David’s association and my background, was to create a show set on a fairground. I believed the notion to be romantic, with interesting characters that fits his music and has never been done since Carousel!” According to Conway, the show offers “a fresh, novel story in an unusual setting, but with the comfort of so many great hit songs”.

These songs include Essex hits such as “Winter's Tale”, “Hold Me Close”, “Gonna Make You a Star”, “Rock On” and “Silver Dream Machine”, as well as a few less well-known album tracks that Essex and his musical associate Ian Wherry adapted especially for the show.

All the Fun of the Fair is at the Manchester Opera House from 24 - 28 January, 2012.