Following his starring role in Trevor Nunn's National Theatre revival of Cole Porter's 1920s musical classic Anything Goes, John Barrowman will return to the Jazz Age next month to star in a new musical about F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. The Beautiful and the Damned will receive its world premiere at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, where it runs from 16 to 28 June 2003 ahead of an anticipated West End transfer.

"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 and additional material by Phil Willmott, who also directs.

Scott and Zelda are played by Barrowman and Helen Anker (whose many musical credits include Oklahoma!, Cats, Crazy for You, A Little Night Music and Hard Times). Also in the cast are Patti Boulaye, David Burt, Jo Gibb, Sarah Lark and Jane Lucas.

The Beautiful and the Damned is dedicated to Zelda and is being promoted as the "largest ever pre-West End musical to appear on stage at the Yvonne Arnaud". The show is produced by Laurence Myers in association with Charles and Mary Dobson.

- by Terri Paddock