The 29-year-old James is best known as one of the four members of boyband Blue, which had 11 top ten singles between 2000 and 2004. Since the band split, James has had success in the charts collaborating with Keedie on the “I Believe My Heart”, the duet from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, and more recently as a contestant on ITV’s Dancing on Ice, which launched a live stage show following its TV series.
James is the second member of Blue to take to the West End stage. His former band member Antony Costa has had stints in Blood Brothers at the Phoenix Theatre.
As Billy Flynn, James steps into shoes previously filled by the likes of Tony Hadley, Marti Pellow, Sacha Distel, Darius Danesh, John Barrowman, Henry Goodman and David Hasselhoff in the London production. Currently, Maxwell Caulfield, best known from American TV’s Dynasty and The Colbys and the film Grease 2, is on for five weeks until 30 June (See News, 21 May 2007).
The current revival of Chicago opened at the Cambridge Theatre (where the musical’s original London production ran for 603 performances from April 1979) on 28 April 2006, after eight-and-a-half years at the Adelphi Theatre. It won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production as well as the 1998 Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical.
Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The current stage revival, which transferred from Broadway, is directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by John Lee Beatty, with choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse.
The current cast of Chicago also features Josefina Gabrielle and Amra-Faye Wright as murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, along with Matthew Lloyd Davies (Amos Hart) and Susie McKenna (Mama Morton).
- by Terri Paddock