Actress Amanda Harris is to replace Frances Barber in Closer To Heaven from 17 September 2001. Barber, who has been with the show since it opened at London's Arts Theatre, has been released in order to undertake film work abroad.

Harris is perhaps best known for her work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where her productions include Travesties, Barbarians, Singer and Country Dancing. Projects with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre have embraced The Way of the World and Pride and Prejudice. Her appearances on film and television include The Vice, Sharman, A Touch of Frost, Oliver Twist and Albert Campion - Death of a Ghost.

Closer To Heaven, which opened on 31 May 2001, recently extended its booking period to 2 February 2002. An original cast recording will be released by It/Epic Records in early October 2001. The show is written by Jonathan Harvey, with music from the hugely successful pop duo Pet Shop Boys. The story centres on an illicit nightclub, where a young Irish male singer becomes involved with a drug dealer and the club's daughter.

Frances Barber's role as the decayed bohemian Billie Trix has earned her wide acclaim, despite the show itself receiving very mixed reviews. The production is directed by Gemma Bodinetz, with musical supervision from Chris Nightingale and design by Es Devlin.

- by Gareth Thompson