Pop legend Tony Christie, still best remembered for his 1970s chart-topper “Amarillo (Is This the Way to)”, will make his West End debut in Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Playhouse, headlining the cast alongside Whatsonstage.com Award winner Ben James-Ellis and Your Country Needs You Eurovision runner-up Alexis Gerred from 5 July 2010.

Commenting on his new role, Tony Christie said: “I saw the show’s original opening night in London almost a year ago and just loved the story. And, of course, the music is incredible – The Platters, Phil Spector, Roy Orbison, Marty Wilde – all artists I grew up listening to. As soon as I saw it, I’ve been searching for a gap in my diary to join the show.”

After being discovered via the BBC’s Any Dream Will Do competition, Ben James-Ellis made his stage debut as the teen crooner in the West End premiere of Broadway musical blockbuster Hairspray, for which he won the 2008 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Dreamboats and Petticoats returns him to both the West End and the musical stage for the first time since leaving Hairspray a year ago.

Dreamboats and Petticoats is currently booking through to 27 November 2010. It opened at the Playhouse on 6 January 2010, following a three-month run from July to October 2009 at the Savoy Theatre.

The rock ‘n’ roll compilation musical, which has a book by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, is based around the Fifties and Sixties hits from the compilation album series of the same name. The first Dreamboats and Petticoats became one of the biggest-selling albums of the decade after its release in 2007, amassing sales of more than 600,000. The second album climbed to number two in the charts within the first week of its release. And Dreamboats and Petticoats 3 went straight in at No 1 on the Compilation Chart.

In 1961, emotions run high as talented young musicians Norman (James-Ellis) and Bobby (Gerred) compete to win the hearts of their adoring female fans – and more importantly, the gorgeous Sue. But when shy Laura shows that she’s no slouch on the piano, rock ‘n’ roll fame beckons. Christie plays the parts of Older Bobby and Phil (Bobby’s father).

Dreamboats and Petticoats is directed by Bob Tomson and designed by Sean Cavanagh, with choreography by Carole Todd, lighting by Mark Howett, sound by Ben Harrison and musical supervision by Keith Strachan. It’s produced by Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield in association with the record label Universal Music.


In other musical casting news, the full company has been announced for the Union Theatre’s upcoming revival of the 1990 Broadway classic {Assassins::L01366700380, which runs from 30 June to 24 July 2010, as part of the year-long celebrations for the 80th birthday of American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.

The revue, chronicling the history of presidential assassination in the US, has a book by John Weidman, with whom Sondheim also wrote Pacific Overtures. It had its London premiere in 1992 at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Union cast includes: Glyn Kerslake, John Barr, Adam Jarrell, Joe Alessi, Nick Holder, Alison Larnder, Leigh McDonald, Paul Callen, Marc Joseph, Nolan Frederick and Lisa Stoke as well as Davis Brooks, Neil Canfer, Anthony Delaney, Hannah Bingham and Holly Easterbrook.