As previously tipped (See The Goss, 28 May 2009), Jim Cartwright's Olivier Award-winning comedy The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, directed by Terry Johnson, will be revived in the West End this autumn, opening at the Vaudeville Theatre on 20 October 2009 (previews from 8 October).

Producers officially announced the production today and confirmed that X Factor star Diana Vickers will star in the title role, originated by Jane Horrocks. Cartwright’s play premiered at the National Theatre in 1992 before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre. It was subsequently adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1998, again starring Horrocks as the diva-impersonating heroine.

Billed as a “savage black comedy-drama”, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice concerns a about painfully shy, diminutive Little Voice (LV), who lives alone in the north of England with her mother, Mari. Mari’s drunken, overbearing personality has driven LV into seclusion in her bedroom, where she listens to her late father’s records and has perfected faultless impersonations of the greatest divas, including Judy Garland and Dame Shirley Bassey. When Mari’s latest boyfriend, small-time working men’s club impresario Ray Say, overhears LV singing, he puts in place a tragic sequence of events as he pushes her towards stardom she doesn’t want and is literally terrified of.

Producer Nica Burns said today: “There was no question of reviving this fabulous play in the West End until we had found our Little Voice. When Jim Cartwright, who originally wrote The Rise and Fall of Little Voice for Jane Horrocks, told me he had found the perfect girl - and then dragged me off to Wembley to see Diana Vickers perform as part of the X Factor tour, I thought he’d gone mad! But when I saw Diana, I knew immediately he was right; she has a special quality. When she finally agreed - after much persuasion - to come in and read for us, we found out that not only can she sing but she was an intuitive actress as well.”

Cartwright said: “This young girl is a natural actress. The moment she read the part, it was magic. A frisson ran through the room. Diana Vickers is the real deal. She is Little Voice.”

Burns added: “We are extremely grateful to Diana’s record company for allowing her a break from recording her debut album to take on this exciting role in the West End. I know it wasn’t part of her career plan after the X Factor, but we are delighted she agreed to do it - even if it meant wearing my knees out begging her!”

Diana Vickers, born in Burnley, Lancashire, the sort of town where the play is set, has been singing since the age of 11. Her talent came to light when she entered The X Factor in 2008 and her journey saw her survive nine weeks of live shows. Vickers is taking short break from recording her debut album to take the role in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She recently signed a record deal to RCA records and her debut album is due for release early 2010.