Over My Shoulder, the new musical about 1930s film star Jessie Matthews (pictured), has just started a five-week season at Oxfordshire's Mill at Sonning ahead of a stint at Greenwich and a UK tour. The current schedule follows a sell-out season in November 2001 at London's fringe Jermyn Street Theatre.

One of 11 children of a Soho stall-holder, Jessie Matthews first performed at the age of 12. She went on to become a darling of the West End and an international star for her high-kicking performances in film musicals such as Evergreen, which featured her most famous song, "Over My Shoulder". Married to fellow actor Sonnie Hale, Matthews also became renowned for her racy love life.

After decades out of the public eye, she came back to prominence in the 1960s as Mrs Dale in over 1,500 episodes of the long-running BBC radio series Mrs Dale's Diary. She received the OBE in 1970 and died in 1981.

Over My Shoulder stars Helen Baker and Anne Rogers as the young and old Matthews. They're joined in the cast by Christopher Dickins, Stephen Carlile, Michael Cotton, Abigail Langham, Duncan Wisbey and Ben Stock.

The new musical is written by Richard Stirling and includes songs by Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin and Noël Coward. It is directed and choreographed by Stewart Nicholls. The musical arranger is Rowland Lee, designed by Claire Lyth, and costumes by Ilona Karas Prokopcova with lighting by Leigh Porter. It is produced in association with Evergreen Theatrical Productions Ltd.

- by Terri Paddock