Niki Evans (pictured), a former contestant on ITV’s X-Factor series, will play Mrs Johnston in Willy Russell’s long-running musical Blood Brothers at the Phoenix theatre for a six month run, from 3 November 2008.

Evans, who finished fourth in the 2007 series behind Rhydian, sibling duo Same Difference and eventual winner Leon Jackson, takes over the role from Lyn Paul and will prepare by joining the touring cast for a two week run from 20 October, during which time Marti Webb, the current touring Mrs Johnston, will cover the role in the West End.

Blood Brothers, which recently extended its run at the Phoenix (See News, 13 Aug 2008), its West End home since 1991, tells the story of twin boys separated at birth, only to be re-united by a twist of fate and a mother’s haunting secret. The score includes “A Bright New Day”, “Marilyn Monroe” and the emotionally charged finale song “Tell Me It’s Not True”.

Evans joins actresses including Barbara Dickson, Kiki Dee, Petula Clark, Lyn Paul, Siobhan McCarthy and all four of the Nolan sisters who have played Mrs Johnston since the musical opened in the West End in 1988.

Blood Brothers is directed by Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright and designed by Marty Flood. The current West End cast includes Craig Price (Narrator), Stephen Palfreman (Mickey), Richard Reynard (Eddie) and Louise Davidson (Mrs Lyons).

- By Theo Bosanquet