Pop star Boy George makes his musical debut this month with his 1980s love-fest Taboo, which marks a first not just for its creator, but also for the venue it's to be held in. The musical opens on 29 January 2002 (previews from 11 January) at the (cunningly named) Venue, which, as it happens, is the first new West End venue to be licensed for 70 years. A former dance hall, located off Leicester Square, The Venue is held in the crypt of a French church and will have seating for 320.

George was one of Britain's biggest stars in the 1980s and it's from that decade that he takes his inspiration for Taboo. It's the story of Billy, a naïve young man who launches himself onto London's vibrant club scene during the "decadent" decade and finds romance in the process. Many of the era's most notorious personalities - including Marilyn, Steve Strange, Leigh Bowery and Philip Sallon - appear as supporting characters on Billy's extraordinary journey.

The Taboo cast, directed by Christopher Renshaw, features stage veterans Gemma Craven (Anything Goes, Beauty and the Beast, 42nd Street, A Taste of Honey) and Paul Baker (The Lion King, Starlight Express, Napoleon, Carousel) who are joined in the cast by Matt Lucas as Leigh Bowery (best known as George Dawes from TV's Shooting Stars), Luke Evans (as Billy), Dianne Pilkington, Mark McGee (as Marilyn), Drew Jaymson (Steve Strange), Mark White, Gail Mackinnon and Euan Morton (as the spitting image of the young Boy George himself).

While Taboo includes several Culture Club classics, George has written an original score with new songs including "Loneliest Girl in the World", "Talk Amongst Yourselves", "Pie in the Sky" and "20th Century Jesus". The musical has a book by This Life writer Mark Davies-Markham, with designs by Tim Goodchild, lighting by Chris Ellis and choreography by Les Childs. It is produced by Adam Kenwright.

Born George Alan O'Dowd in 1961, Boy George shot to fame in the 1980s as the androgynous and behatted lead singer of Culture Club. He has sold over 30 million records worldwide, including hit singles such as "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?", "I'll Tumble for Ya", "The War Song" and "Church of the Poisoned Mind".

- by Terri Paddock