Liberace's Suit, a new play based on the infamous 1950s High Court libel battle between the American pianist and the Daily Mirror, receives its world premiere tonight (27 May 2004) at London’s Jermyn Street, where it continues its limited season until 19 June.

One of the most flamboyant American entertainers of the 20th century, Liberace, who died in 1986, became known the world over for his outrageous costumes, massive collection of diamonds and high camp shows. Amongst his many accolades over a long career, Liberace earned Instrumentalist of the Year, Best Dressed Entertainer, Entertainer of the Year, two Emmy Awards, six gold albums and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's highest paid musician and pianist.

In 1956, while on a trip to London, the Daily Mirror columnist Cassandra attacked Liberace in print, as the famous “winking, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love”. Upset by the inference that he was a closet homosexual, at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, Liberace sued the newspaper for libel, in a case that made headlines all over the world.

In Liberace's Suit, author TK Light draws on contemporary reports to follow the cut and thrust of the trial. Bobby Crush (pictured) – who followed his Opportunity Knocks! win 30 years ago with seasons at the London Palladium – plays the entertainer in a five-strong cast directed by Phil Willmott.

- by Terri Paddock