Olivier Award winner Janie Dee (pictured) will join David Soul in the Watermill Theatre revival of 1974 musical Mack and Mabel as it embarks on a UK tour in the new year ahead of a planned West End transfer (See The Goss, 23 Jun 2005). The tour opens at the Theatre Royal Bath on 24 January 2006 before continuing, until 25 March 2006, to seven further venues.

Out of the silent movie era and the heady heights of 1920s Hollywood, Mack and Mabel tells the love story of two of its greatest legends: director Mack Sennett, “the king of comedy”, and his star, comedienne Mabel Normand. Together they bring magic to the silver screen. Yet ambition, dalliance and the impending threat of changing times make for a tempestuous relationship. The score includes "Look What Happened to Mabel", "I Won’t Send Roses", "Time Heals Everything" "Hundreds of Girls" and "Tap Your Troubles Away".

Soul - the former Starsky and Hutch TV heartthrob who was last seen in the West End as the American chat show host in Jerry Springer - The Opera - will reprise his role as Mack. He played the part in the production’s original eight-week season at the Watermill in Newbury this summer, when he was described as “the best Mack I’ve ever seen” by the musical’s octogenarian composer Jerry Herman (the man behind Hello Dolly, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles).

Dee takes the part of Mabel, played in Newbury by Anna-Jane Casey in a TMA Award-winning performance. Dee’s many musical credits include Cats, Carousel (for which she won her first Olivier), My One and Only, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music and South Pacific. She’s also been seen in the plays Between the Lines, Design for Living, Betrayal, Much Ado About Nothing and, in 2000, Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential for which she won Best Actress accolades at the Laurence Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards before the comedy’s New York transfer.

Like last year’s revival of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd - which won two Whatsonstage.com Awards (for Best Musical Revival and Best Ensemble Performance) during its West End season and has now transferred to Broadway - Mack and Mabel is part of the Watermill’s series of successful actor/musician productions. All directed by John Doyle with musical arrangements and direction by Sarah Travis, the series has also included Fiddler on the Roof, A Star Danced and Gondoliers, which also transferred to the West End.

Mack and Mabel premiered on Broadway in 1974, starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, and was seen at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre in 1995 with Howard McGillin and Caroline O'Connor. The musical has a book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, with revisions by Francine Pascal. Further dates and casting for the new UK tour are still to be announced.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock