Former Boyzone star Stephen Gately (pictured) may have handed over his brightly coloured garb to Any Dream Will Do winner Lee Mead (See News, 11 Jun 2007), but he hasn’t left Biblical musical roles behind him. This autumn he’ll star in a major new revival of Stephen Schwartz’s Seventies hit Godspell, which opens at the Manchester Palace on 25 September 2007, at the start of a two-month UK-wide tour.

For seven years in the 1990s, Gately was a member of Irish group Boyzone, one of the most successful boybands in UK chart history. The band reached the top three in the charts with every one of their first 14 singles. Their many hits included "Love Me for a Reason", "When You Say Nothing at All, "Baby Can I Hold You" and "No Matter What" from another Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind.

Gately made his West End debut in March 2003 playing the title role in Bill Kenwright’s last London outing of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (See News, 17 Feb 2003), which ran for two-and-a-half years at the New London Theatre. The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, based on the story of Jacob’s son Joseph and his 11 jealous brothers, is revived next month at the Adelphi Theatre starring Lee Mead, who this past Saturday was crowned the victor of TV casting competition Any Dream Will Do.

Prior to Boyzone, Gately had been modelling and acting since the age of 16. In 1999, he made headlines for announcing to the press that he was gay. In addition to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, his stage credits include a West End stint as the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (See News, 2 Aug 2004). Earlier this year, he competed in ITV’s Dancing on Ice. Amongst his various accolades, Gately has been named "Irish Personality of the Year".

A modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel According to St Matthew, Godspell opens with John the Baptist gathering up followers and concludes with Jesus' crucifixion in a junkyard. Conceived by then-college student John-Michael Tebelak, the show has music and lyric by Stephen Schwartz, whose subsequent hits include Pippin and, most recently Wicked. The score includes such famous songs as "Day by Day", "All Good Gifts" and "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord".

Godspell first opened Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in May 1971, before clocking up over 2,000 performances on Broadway. Later that year, it opened in the West End in a production that starred David Essex. The musical was adapted for the 1973 film, starring Victor Garber.

The last major UK revival toured the country in 2002 and starred Daniel MacPherson and Jonathan Wilkes alternating in the roles of Jesus and Judas (See News, 19 Feb 2002). A full schedule for the new UK tour, directed by Leicester Haymarket artistic director Paul Kerryson, will be released shortly.

- by Terri Paddock