West End 'diva' Clive Rowe stars in the world premiere of a new musical comedy written specifically for him by Paul Ryan and Peter Readman. Sadly Solo Joe opens tonight, 2 October 2002, at Greenwich Theatre, where it continues to 12 October ahead of a stint (14-19 October) at the inaugural International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff and a possible transfer.

Rowe is best remembered for his role as Nicely Nicely Johnson in the National's revival of Guys and Dolls, for which he won the 1997 Olivier for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical. His turn in the number, "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat", achieved legendary status for its rapturously show-stopping encores.

Rowe's many other musical theatre credits include Company, Carousel, Lady Be Good, Candide and Chicago. For two years running, he presented his acclaimed one-man cabaret as part of the Donmar Warehouse's acclaimed Divas at the Donmar season.

In Sadly Solo Joe, Rowe plays the title role of Joe Murphy. He's the nicest guy in New York, but he just can't find a girl. Things look set to change when he meets Odetta. Could this be the real thing or is best pal Jerry less of a pal than he seems?

Sadly Solo Joe was selected for full production from 12 new musicals showcased in Greenwich's "Musical Futures" season. At Cardiff, it will feature as the only fully staged new musical in the programme for the International Festival of Musical Theatre.

The musical has book and lyrics by Ryan and music by Readman. It is directed by Richard Williams. Joining Rowe in the cast are Vivien Parry, Simon Grieff and Jackie Morrison.

- by Terri Paddock