As part of the international celebrations around the Richard Rodgers centenary, Nottingham Playhouse and Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre are mounting a new co-production of Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's classic 1940 musical Pal Joey. Starring EastEnders' Des Coleman, the musical opens this week, 28 February, in Ipswich where it continues until 23 March before transferring to Nottingham for a limited run from 4 to 27 April 2002.

It's 1930s Chicago and everybody's pal, Joey Evans, is a small-time entertainer with the gift of the gab. He fast-talks his way into a job at Mike's Night Club, but Joey has eyes for bigger and better things. He uses wealthy socialite, Vera Simpson, to fund his own dream club and life's peachy - until his past starts to catch up with him.

Best known as to TV audiences as likeable Lenny from BBC soap EastEnders, Coleman (who plays Joey) has previously appeared on stage in Rent, Miss Saigon and Chicago. In Pal Joey, he stars alongside stage regular Kathryn Evans (as Vera), whose many credits include Evita, Side by Side by Sondheim, The Fix, Piaf, Aspects of Love, Radio Times, The Sound of Music, Mack and Mabel and Into the Woods. Also in the cast is Rae Baker (as Linda English).

Pal Joey is directed by Phil Wilmott and designed by Nigel Hook, with lighting by Hansjorg Schmidt, choreography by Sam Spencer Lane and musical direction by Greg Palmer.

Originally a hit on Broadway in the 1940s, Pal Joey was made into a 1957 film starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. The musical features a book by John O'Hara, based on his series of short stories in The New Yorker magazine, with lyrics by Lorenz Hart and music by Rodgers.

Terri Paddock