Steele Returns to Palladium for Scrooge & PlaqueDate: 6 June 2005
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 21 Apr & 18 May 2005), chart-topping veteran Tommy Steele (pictured) will return to the West End – and, more specifically, the London Palladium – this winter. He’ll play the title role in Scrooge, Leslie Bricusse’s musical retelling of Charles Dickens' literary classic A Christmas Carol, which will have a limited festive season at the Palladium from 8 November 2005 to 14 January 2006 (previews from 20 October).
A pop chart-topper in the 1950s, Steele went on to become one of Britain's best known all-round entertainers. In 1963, he had a hit in the West End with the musical Half a Sixpence, which he later starred in on Broadway and in the 1967 Hollywood film version. During a long and varied career, Steele has also featured in films such as Finian's Rainbow, The Happiest Millionaire and The Tommy Steele Story; appeared regularly on television, not least in his popular variety show, The Tommy Steele Hour; and released some 20 records.
On stage, many of Steele’s biggest successes have taken place at the London Palladium where, having set a record for headlining more performances than any other artist, a plaque will be unveiled in his honour this Thursday, 9 June 2005. Prior to Scrooge, his productions at the theatre have included Hans Christian Andersen, The London Palladium Show, Dick Whittington and Singin’ in the Rain. The last, directed by as well as starring Steele, ran for 894 performances.
Scrooge tells Dickens’ story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who - after a night facing the ghosts of his past, present and his frightening future - is transformed, his Christmas spirit restored. The score includes "I Hate Christmas", "It's Not My Fault", "I'll Begin Again" and "Better Life".
The version by Bricusse - whose other major musicals include Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, Pickwick and Doctor Dolittle - was originally a 1970 film starring Alec Guinness and Albert Finney. The musical was famously staged in Birmingham in 1992 when Bricusse's long-time collaborator Anthony Newley took the title role.
Tommy Steele has performed Scrooge in Manchester and Birmingham over the past two festive seasons. This Christmas, a separate production starring Shane Richie (now a familiar TV face for EastEnders, whose previous stage credits have included Grease and Boogie Nights) will run at the Bristol Hippodrome from 6 December 2005 to 21 January 2006 (See The Goss, 21 Apr 2005). Both productions are presented by Bill Kenwright Ltd, directed by Bob Thomson and designed by Paul Farnsworth, with illusions by Harry Potter special effects creator Paul Kieve.
Currently at the 2,300-seat London Palladium, the West End’s largest venue, the £6.2 million stage adaptation of the 1968 children's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will finish on 4 September 2005 after three-and-a-half years (See News, 18 May 2005). From 21 June, Jason Donovan will return to the role of Caractacus Potts, inventor of the magical flying car of the title. The musical will embark on a UK tour in December (full dates still be to confirmed).
- by Terri Paddock