EastEnders actress Michelle Collins and pop star Javine will join So Solid Crew’s Harvey (pictured together) in the cast of Daddy Cool, a new musical featuring the hits of Seventies disco group Boney M and a story loosely based on Romeo and Juliet (See News, 29 Nov 2005). Further casting was announced at a press launch held yesterday (Wednesday 18 January 2006) at the London club Too2Much. The musical receives its world premiere at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 16 May 2006 (previews from 26 April).

Daddy Cool is produced by Frank Farian and Robert Mackintosh and directed by Andy Goldberg (Bomb-itty of Errors) with creative associate Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham on screen). Chadha said: “Robert really wanted me to be involved and he asked me to come on board based on my film work and the fact the story is set in multicultural London. It is the first time I have worked on a West End musical, so I thought the role of director would be a bit too ambitious for me! I’m just there for creative input and to offer my opinion when Andy asks for it. It will appeal to anyone who remembers the music of Boney M, so people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, but also younger people who know Harvey and Javine will be keen to see those pop stars on stage.”

Set in modern London to the music of Boney M (and other Frank Farian artists including Milli Vanilli and No Mercy), Daddy Cool tells the story of Sunny, a young man who lives for his music. Caught up in local rivalry between east and west London crews, Sunny meets and falls in love with Rose, the daughter of the East End’s notorious club owner, Ma Baker (Collins). The lovers’ relationship fuels the hostility between the two gangs.

Harvey, who makes his stage debut in the musical, plays Sunny’s best friend, Shake. He told Whatsonstage.com: “I am really excited about this, it will be a new challenge for me. Boney M has achieved so much and I really respect that, this music sells all over the world. I think this show is going to bring in a multicultural audience, and the West End needs that because I think it often seems very segregated. I think this is going to attract a very different audience.”

Javine, who has previously appeared on stage as Nala in hit Disney musical The Lion King, plays Asia Blue, the lead singer in Ma Baker’s club.

Collins was last seen in the West End in the 2004 revival of Sixties play Rattle of a Simple Man. In addition to EastEnders, her TV credits include Family Man, 2000 Acres of Sky, Daylight Robbery and Sunburn. She told Whatsonstage.com: “When I first heard about the show, I thought ‘I’m not too sure about this’. But then when I found out more I thought it would be really interesting, because it’s not about Boney M but it uses the fantastic songs to tell a West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet-type tale.”

Boney M’s hits include “Rivers of Babylon”, “Brown Girl in the Ring”, “Ma Baker”, “Girl You Know It’s True”, “Where Do You Go”, “One Way Ticket”, “Mary’s Boychild” and the group’s first hit, “Daddy Cool”. Many of the songs, originally written in the 1970s and 80s, have been re-interpreted with contemporary musical influences.

Daddy Cool has a book by Amani Naphtali and choreography by Sean Cheesman. Set and costume design is by Jon Morrell, with lighting by David Hersey and sound by Nick Lister for Autograph. Musical supervision is by Mike Dixon with orchestrations by Steve Sidwell. Currently at the Shaftesbury, the revival of Cole Porter musical High Society, originally seen at the Open Air Theatre, finishes its season this weekend (21 January 2006).

- by Caroline Ansdell