From 20 September 2004, Whatsonstage.com Award-winning actor John Barrowman and Hell’s Kitchen winner Jennifer Ellison (pictured) will star as, respectively, Billy Flynn and Roxie Hart in the long-running production of Kander and Ebb musical Chicago at the West End's Adelphi Theatre.

Though best known for her five-year role as Emily Shadwick in TV soap Brookside and, earlier this summer, her success on chef Gordon Ramsey’s reality TV show, Ellison is a classically trained dancer as well as a recording artist. She recently released her debut single “Baby I Don’t Care”. Later this year, she’ll appear as Meg Giry in the screen version of The Phantom of the Opera.

Chicago, in which she takes over from Rebecca Thornhill as unrepentant murderess Roxie, will mark Ellison’s London stage debut. She’ll appear for nine weeks only, up to 20 November 2004. Barrowman takes over as super-slick lawyer Billy Flynn from Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff, who has extended his limited engagement by two weeks to 18 September.

Barrowman is currently starring in Trevor Nunn’s National Theatre production of Anything Goes, which finishes its extended West End season at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 28 August 2004. For his performance as Billy Crocker, he won this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Actor in a Musical, one of five Whatsonstage.com wins, including Best Musical Revival, for the acclaimed production.

Barrowman’s many other West End musical credits include Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, The Phantom of the Opera, Matador, The Fix and Sunset Boulevard. He also features in the new Cole Porter film, De-Lovely, alongside which he’s released his latest solo album, John Barrowman Swings Porter.

Anita Louise Combe will continue in the role of fellow murderess Velma Kelly. Chicago, based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Rick Clarke. The production is choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse and directed by Walter Bobbie.

The musical opened at the West End's Adelphi Theatre in November 1997 and went on to win the 1998 Olivier for Outstanding Musical Production and the 1998 Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. Chicago is currently booking until 4 June 2005.

- by Terri Paddock