Former rocker Tommy Steele will return to the musical stage this winter, after a ten-year absence, to take the title role in a new production of Leslie Bricusse's Scrooge. The musical opens at Birmingham Hippodrome on 13 October 2003 before continuing to seven further venues until 23 February 2004.

A pop chart-topper in the 1950s, Steele went on to become one of Britain's best known all-round entertainers. In 1963, he had a hit in the West End with the musical Half a Sixpence, which he later starred in on Broadway and in the the 1967 Hollywood film version. Steele's other big successes have included: on screen, Finian's Rainbow, The Happiest Millionaire and The Tommy Steele Story; and on stage, Singin' in the Rain and Hans Christian Andersen.

A musical retelling of Charles Dickens' literary classic A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who - after a night facing the ghosts of his past, present and his frightening future - is transformed, his Christmas spirit restored. The score includes "I Hate Christmas", "It's Not My Fault", "I'll Begin Again" and "Better Life".

The version by Bricusse - whose other major musicals include Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, Pickwick and Doctor Dolittle - was originally a 1970 film starring Alec Guinness and Albert Finney, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Scrooge. Scrooge was famously staged in Birmingham in 1992 when Bricusse's long-time collaborator Anthony Newley took the title role.

As with previous UK tours, the new production is directed once again by Bob Thomson and designed by Paul Farnsworth. Following Birmingham, it visits Newcastle, Plymouth, Hull, Liverpool (playing at the Empire over Christmas, from 8 December 2003 to 12 January 2004), Edinburgh, Northampton and Wolverhampton, where it concludes its current schedule on 23 February 2004. Scrooge is presented on tour by Bill Kenwright Ltd.

- by Terri Paddock