The inmates – or rather the cast and creative team – of Bad Girls The Musical, which receives its world premiere at Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse in June (See News, 4 Jan 2006), gathered at The Clink in London Bridge (one of Britain’s oldest prisons and the first to detain women) to launch the show today (4 April 2006).

The long-planned stage musical version of the ITV drama will have a limited six-week season from 6 June 2006 (previews from 27 May) to 1 July 2006 in Leeds. Written by the creators of the television series, Bad Girls The Musical has a book by Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts.

The musical will feature characters from the first series of the drama played by a new set of actors, including Nicole Faraday (Thank You for the Music National Tour), Hal Fowler (HMS Pinafore at the Open Air, Martin Guerre in the West End) Rachel Izen (Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Chorus Line in the West End, Guys and Dolls at the National), Ellen O'Grady (Hair on tour), Amanda Posener (Rent in the West End), Laura Rogers (The Barber of Seville at Bristol Old Vic) and Hannah Waddingham (who will subsequently star in Spamalot in September - See News, 21 Feb 2006).

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Commenting on the new musical, artistic director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse Ian Brown said: “Musicals are very important at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. We have had some success in recent years with Singin’ in the Rain and Spend Spend Spend which we are very proud of, and we are looking forward to the opportunity of working on a musical of this scale. Bad Girls The Musical landed on my desk some time last year, and within 24 hours, I was back on the phone saying yes we would like to think about doing this musical.”

Composer Kath Gotts told “Bad Girls is just a world you want to be in, even though it’s set in a prison. Watching it you just want to feel part of it, and that’s why we thought it would make a good musical. It has a pop rock feel to it, and each of the characters has a signature style of music. The main inspiration for the music was the characters because they are all so strong.”

Laura Rogers, who will play the new governor Helen Stewart, told “I knew I was up for this role when we did the workshop. But having read the script, there isn’t a character in this show I wouldn’t want to play. They are all so strong.” Hannah Waddingham, who will play inmate Nikki Wade, agreed: “It is very rare to have a musical with so many strong female leads. You usually just get one strong female in a show, and this is really balanced. It’s a real ensemble piece.” Amanda Posener, who will play prisoner Denny Blood, added: “It’s very driven by the acting, and each of the songs moves the story along. It’s more like a play with music than a traditional musical.”

Gotts explained the reason they wanted to premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was that they like the space and consider the venue to be one of the premier producing houses in the north of England, and also because viewing figures for Bad Girls are stronger in the north than the south. She said: “It is a great theatre and we are very happy to be there. We would love the show to have a life after its premiere in Leeds, but we will see what happens. For the moment, we are just focussing on this production.”

- by Caroline Ansdell