Heart-throb Distel Makes Stage Debut at 68Date: 10 August 2000
French crooner and jazz guitarist Sacha Distel will make his stage debut next month in the West End production of Chicago. From 18 September, Distel, aged 68, will take over as Billy Flynn, the slick lawyer who gets the show's sexy murderesses out of jail. The part is currently being played by John Diedrich who hands over to Clarke Peters for a five-week interim engagement from 14 August. Distel has signed up for a six-month stint.
Distel had his first French hit in the 1950s and toured the British cabaret circuit extensively in the mid-1960s. He continues to perform around the world. Over the course of his 35-year career, he has received many awards, including the Legion D'Honneur in 1997. He also has three Royal Variety performances and many headlining seasons at the Olympia in Paris to his credit.
In addition to his big hits including 'Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head', 'The Good Life' and 'Scoubidou', Distel is renowned as one of France's biggest heart-throbs. Famously, he had an affair with starlet Brigitte Bardot after her film debut in And God Created Woman, which prompted commentators to pun '.and then he created Sacha Distel for them'.
Commenting on the casting decision, associate general manager of Chicago Elizabeth Kaye said the star still has what it takes. On two previous trips to London to see the show and participate in a photocall with the rest of the scantily-clad and mainly female cast, 'he bowled the girls over with his Gallic charm'.
Chicago, also a hit on Broadway, opened at the Adelphi Theatre on 18 November 1997, following previews from 27 October. It is currently booking to 31 March 2001. Amongst other accolades, the West End production, directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Ann Reinking, won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production and the 1998 London Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.