West End veterans John Partridge and David Burt will join Boy George (pictured) when he returns next week to the cast of his self-penned musical Taboo at The Venue, Leicester Square. From Monday 5 August 2002, Partridge and Burt will take over from Mark McGee and Mark White as, respectively, Marilyn and Derek/Petal.

George follows Mark Little for another five-week stint as performance artist Leigh Bowery - a role he made his stage acting debut in earlier this summer - prior to the start of comedian Julian Clary's performances in the role on 9 September. (George will not be appearing on 7, 14 or 15 August, when he'll be replaced by understudy Adam Longworth. Extra matinees performances, with George, have been added on 28 August and 4 September).

Other principal cast members - including Euan Morton (as the young Boy George), Paul Baker (Philip Sallon), Lyn Paul (Josie), Luke Evans (Billy), Dianne Pilkington (Kim), Drew Jaymson (Steve Strange) and Gail Mackinnon (Big Sue) - remain with the production.

Partridge has previously been seen in the West End in Cats, Notre Dame de Paris, Starlight Express, Tommy, Grease, The Hunting of the Snark, The Snowman and Grease. Burt's many London musical theatre credits include Closer to Heaven, Napoleon, Candide, Honk!, The Villains' Opera and The Legendary Golem.

Set in the 1980s, Taboo tells the story of Billy, an aspiring photographer who launches himself onto London's vibrant club scene during the "decadent" decade and finds romance in the process. Many of the era's most notorious personalities - including Marilyn, Steve Strange, Leigh Bowery, Philip Sallon and George himself - populate Billy's extraordinary journey.

While Taboo includes snippets of some Culture Club classics, Boy George has written an original score with all-new songs including "Ode to Attention Seekers", "Stranger in this World", "Love Is a Question Mark", "Guttersnipe", "Touched by the Hand of Cool", "Out of Fashion" and "Pie in the Sky".

The musical, which has a book by This Life writer Mark Davies, is directed by Christopher Renshaw and designed by Tim Goodchild, with costumes by Mike Nicholls, lighting by Chris Ellis and choreography by Les Childs. It is produced by Adam Kenwright.

- by Terri Paddock