Samantha Barks (pictured) has become the latest losing I’d Do Anything contestant to land a leading musical role. It has been announced that Barks, who at just 17 was the youngest contestant in the BBC casting competition, will play Sally Bowles in the forthcoming national tour of Rufus Norris’ award-winning production of Cabaret.

The production, which recently closed at the West End’s Lyric theatre (See News, 5 Jun 2008), originally opened on 10 October 2006 with Anna Maxwell Martin as Sally Bowles, and James Dreyfus as the shady Emcee, a role which will be played on tour by former Royal Ballet principal Wayne Sleep. The tour kicks off at the Birmingham Repertory theatre on 2 September 2008 (previews from 29 August).

Barks, who finished third in the talent contest to play Nancy in the forthcoming West End production of Oliver! behind eventual winner Jodie Prenger, said in a press announcement: “Cabaret is one of my favourite shows ever and Sally Bowles is such a great part to play. Having met Liza Minnelli during the filming of I'd Do Anything I'm beside myself with excitement.” The news comes soon after the recent announcement that her fellow contestant, semi-finalist Rachel Tucker, will join the cast of We Will Rock You in September (See News, 10 Jul 2008).

First seen on Broadway in 1966, Cabaret turns Weimar Berlin of 1931 into a divine haven of decadence, its morally ambiguous inhabitants determined to keep up appearances as the real world - outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret - prepares for war. Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood and the play by John Van Druten, Cabaret has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. In 1972 it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Michael York as Cliff and Joel Grey as the Emcee.

After Birmingham, the tour visits Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Woking, Cheltenham, Bath, Leeds, Truro, Northampton, Eastbourne, Malvern, Hull and finishes up in Glasgow from 30 March – 4 April 2009.

- By Theo Bosanquet