Ben Richards, best known from TV series The Bill and Footballer’s Wives, will join the West End cast of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical from 1 June 2010, taking over the role of Tick from Jason Donovan.

Richards joins Don Gallagher (Bernadette), Oliver Thornton (Adam) and John Bowe (Bob) in the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier award-winning musical at the Palace Theatre, where booking has been extended until 28 May 2011.

As well as his TV work, Richards has played many leading roles in musical theatre including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls on tour and in the West End, Danny Zuko in Grease at the Victoria Palace Theatre and on tour, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever at the London Palladium and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Adapted from the 1994 Oscar-winning cult Australian film starring Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp, Priscilla follows Sydney drag queen Mitzi (aka Tick) and her two fish-out-of-water friends, Felicia (Adam) and transsexual Bernardette, as they head west across the desert to Alice Springs in their battered old bus.

Like the film, the musical is fashioned around disco hits including "I Love the Nightlife," "I Will Survive", “Shake Your Groove Thing” and "Finally". It’s directed by Simon Phillips, designed by Brian Thomson, choreography by Ross Coleman, and costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.


Full casting has been announced for The Night of 1000 Voices, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 May 2010 with a birthday tribute to composer Stephen Sondheim (See News, 4 Nov 2009).

Host Aled Jones will introduce performers including Kerry Ellis, Adam Pascal, Philip Quast, Teri Bibb, Kenneth Nichols and David Michael Johnson. Joining them on stage will be a VIP special musical guest with Robin Cousins and the original Calendar Girls. Gloria Hunniford and Ainsley Harriott will also make an appearance at the evening performance.

As well as the birthday tribute to Stephen Sondheim, the show, held in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (which marks its 50th anniversary this year), will also feature some of the most requested favourites from the last 10 years, including “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “The Tonight Quintet”, “It Ain't Necessarily So” and “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”.


In other musical casting news:

  • From 31 May 2010 Genevieve Lemon will join the London cast of the multi-award winning Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre to play Billy’s dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson. Lemon, who has played the role her native Australia, will mark her West End debut as the show enters into its sixth year in London. Twelve year-old Aaron Watson from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, will also join the Company to become the 23rd young boy to play the title role in the West End.

  • According to the Daily Mail, former Coronation Street star Richard Fleeshman will replace Duncan James in Legally Blonde when the former Blue singer finishes his six-month stint in the Broadway import, which is currently booking to 20 February 2011 at the Savoy Theatre.