Helen Anker and, as previously tipped (See News, 9 Mar 2004), Michael Praed will star in the new West End musical about Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned, which opens at the Lyric Theatre on 10 May 2004, following previews from 28 April (See News, 27 Jan 2004).

Anker starred, with Anything GoesJohn Barrowman, in the show’s original three-week try-out in June 2003 at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre last June (See News, 2 May 2003). Her other musical credits include A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, Cats, Fame, Oklahoma! and Susan Stroman’s Contact, in which she appeared with Praed.

Praed, best known to TV fans for Robin of Sherwood and Dynasty, has previously appeared on stage in Aspects of Love and The Pirates of Penzance. Later this month, he’ll appear in the fringe play Three on a Couch with fellow Contact star Leigh Zimmerman at the King’s Head theatre.

Praed and Anker, who play Scott and Zelda, are joined in the cast by David Burt (Cats, Evita, Les Miserables) and Susannah Fellows (Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Evita, City of Angels, Pal Joey). Further casting has not yet been announced.

"Scott and Zelda" were the most glamorous couple of the Roaring Twenties. Scott, the successful author of novels including The Great Gatsby, and his fashionable artist wife lived the ultimate globe-trotting, party-going, big-spending high life. But for all the glamour, there was also abundant tragedy, including alcoholism, insanity, incarceration, poverty and untimely deaths for them both.

The Beautiful and the Damned is the brainchild of singer and songwriter Roger Cook, who originally had the idea in 1977. The resulting musical has been more than ten years in the making. It has music and lyrics by Cook and Les Reed, with a book by Kit Hesketh Harvey.

The new West End production is choreographed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood (West Side Story, Spend Spend Spend and designed by Christopher Woods, with lighting by Nick Richings, orchestration by Larry Blank, dance and incidental music arrangements by David Krane and musical direction by John Owen Edwards. It’s presented in the West End by Laurence Myers in association with Charles, Mary and Julian Dobson by arrangement with Really Useful Theatres.

- by Terri Paddock