Boyzone's Gately Joins Donovan for Chitty ChittyDate: 2 August 2004
From next month, there will be not one but two former Joseph’s joining the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the West End’s London Palladium. In addition to Jason Donovan, who returns to the role of inventor Caractacus Potts in the screen-to-stage adaptation (See News, 23 Mar 2004), from 7 September 2004, former Boyzone pop star Stephen Gately will play the evil Childcatcher.
Donovan starred in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the London Palladium in 1991. Gately (pictured) made his West End debut last year when he headed the cast of a new revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Biblical musical, still running at the New London Theatre (See News, 17 Feb 2003).
For seven years in the 1990s, Gately was a member of Irish group Boyzone, one of the most successful boybands in UK chart history. The band reached the top three in the charts with every one of their first 14 singles. Their many hits included "Love Me for a Reason", "When You Say Nothing at All, "Baby Can I Hold You" and "No Matter What" from another Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind.
Prior to Boyzone, Gately had been modelling and acting since the age of 16. In 1999, he made headlines for announcing to the press that he was gay. He soon after launched a solo career with a single and album titled "Billy Elliott". Amongst his various accolades, he has been named "Irish Personality of the Year" and "Hero of '99".
Donovan, who had a limited five-week stint in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the beginning of the year, takes over from Gary Wilmot as Caractacus Potts, while Gately takes over from dancer Lionel Blair in the role of the Childcatcher, which he’s contracted for up to 16 January 2005. Others in the current cast include Scarlet Strallen (as Truly Scrumptious), Christopher Biggins (Baron Bomburst), Louise Gold (Baroness Bomburst) and Tony Adams (Grandpa Potts).
The stage musical is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers. It's directed by former RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and designed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner Anthony Ward. The original children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming.
The £6.2 million musical, based on the famous 1968 children's film, is currently taking bookings up to 13 March 2005 at the London Palladium. The Broadway production will open at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in April 2005.
- by Terri Paddock