The Kinks’ Ray Davies (pictured) is confirmed to lead the 13-strong company for the world premiere of his self-penned musical Come Dancing, which will have a limited season from 24 September to 25 October 2008 (previews from 13 September) at east London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East (See News, 16 Jul 2008).

The musician, singer, songwriter and former Kinks’ frontman makes his musical debut as Terry, the show’s de facto narrator. Come Dancing is loosely based on Davies’ own childhood when he watched his sisters go out with their latest boyfriends to dances on a Saturday night. It was, according to Davies, the era just before rock and pop came into being and ‘the big band sound’ dominated the music scene.

Set in and around the Ilford Palais in the 1950s, the new musical takes its title from The Kinks\' 1983 song of the same name. However, Come Dancing is not a compilation of the band’s hits. It features new music and lyrics specially written for it by Davies, who has also conceived the story and co-written the book with Paul Sirett, with additional material by Terry Johnson.

London-born Ray Davies was the frontman for The Kinks for more than 30 years from their formation in 1963 to their disbandment in the mid-1990s. He wrote hits for the group including “You Really Got Me”, “All Day and All of the Night”, “Lola”, “Waterloo Sunset”, “Do It Again” and “Come Dancing”. He was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

In the Come Dancing cast, Davies is joined by Alasdair Harvey, Anthony Flaum, Bradley Clarkson, Delroy Atkinson, Gemma Salter, Katey Munroe, Katherine James, Marcus Ellard, Martin George, Samantha Hughes, Stephen Lloyd and Wendy Mae Brown.

The premiere production is directed by Theatre Royal Stratford East artistic director Kerry Michael, who also directed reggae musical The Harder They Come, an adaptation of the 1972 Jamaican film starring Jimmy Cliff, which transferred to the West End last month following limited seasons at the Barbican and Stratford East, where it premiered in April 2006 (See 1st Night Photos, 10 Jun 2008). It’s designed by Harriet Barsby and Jenny Tiramani, with musical direction by Robert Hyman, choreography by Omar Okai and lighting by Jo Joelson.

Other musicals originated at Stratford East which have transferred to the West End include Five Guys Named Moe and, more recently, The Big Life. The theatre is in the middle of a five-year Musical Theatre Initiative with the aim of developing new shows based around highly contemporary music.

- by Terri Paddock