Fresh from his screen success in The Wire and in Endgame, in which he played Nelson Mandela, actor Clarke Peters will return to his theatrical roots – though he won’t be treading the boards himself. Peters has signed up to direct Denise Van Outen in the new one-woman musical show Blondes, in which she’ll make her Edinburgh Fringe debut next month (See News, 10 Jun 2009).

Ahead of its season at the world’s largest arts festival, running from 6 to 31 August 2009 at the E4 Udderbelly Cow Barn in Edinburgh, Blondes will have an “Edinburgh previews” stint in London for six performances only at the New End Theatre in London, from 27 July to 1 August.

Van Outen and Peters have previously appeared on stage in 2001 in the West End production of Chicago, with Peters playing Billy Flynn, lawyer for Van Outen’s murderess Roxie Hart. Peters goes back even further with Blondes’ musical director Mike Moran, who provides onstage piano accompaniment for Van Outen: in the 1970s, Peters and Moran were both in the band The Majestics, supporting Shirley Bassey.

And continuing the show’s connections, Van Outen first worked with actor-comedy cabaret artist, and fellow Essex girl, Jackie Clune, in 2003 on another one-woman musical, the West End revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s Tell Me on a Sunday, which Clune was brought in to update.

Part cabaret, part theatre, part stand-up, Blondes pays tribute to all those angel-haired divas who have given blondes a good – and a bad – name, from Mae West, Marilyn and Madonna through to Dusty, Doris Day and Duffy. The strapline? “Blondes have more fun – official.”

Since her days on The Big Breakfast, Denise Van Outen has become a household name in the UK from her myriad TV credits on the likes of Something for the Weekend, Who Dares Sings and as a judge on musical casting competitions Any Dream Will Do (through which she met her now-husband, winner and subsequent Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat star Lee Mead) and I’d Do Anything. Her US television credits include Grease: You’re the One That I Want. On stage herself, in addition to Chicago (which she also starred in on Broadway) and Tell Me on a Sunday, Van Outen in the West End last year in Rent: Remixed, while her earlier credits included A Slice of Saturday Night, Les Miserables, A Midsummer Night\'s Dream and Stop the World.

American-born Clarke Peters’ many UK stage credits include the musicals Porgy and Bess, The Witches of Eastwick, Guys and Dolls, Follies, Blues in the Night, Chicago, Five Guys Named Moe and the Eugene O’Neill play The Iceman Cometh, in which he starred alongside Kevin Spacey. The last two subsequently transferred to Broadway, with both earning him Tony Award nominations.

Blondes is produced by David Johnson and DVO.

** DON’T MISS our upcoming Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club promotion for the Edinburgh previews of Blondes at the New End Theatre in London, including concession discounts and a limited number of FREE tickets!! This promotion will be announced next week. To ensure you don’t miss out, join the Club now! Non-Club tickets are priced £12.50 and can be booked via the New End box office on 0870 033 2733 or online via the theatre website. **