Emma Williams will star in A Model Girl, a new musical inspired by the Profumo scandal of 1963, when former topless model and dancer Christine Keeler’s affair with the Secretary of State for War John Profumo rocked the political establishment. The show runs at Greenwich Theatre from 2 to 24 February 2007 (previews from 30 January).

With its mix of sex, politics, guns and espionage, the affair became one of Britain’s first tabloid scandals. Profumo was forced to resign from the Tory Cabinet for lying to the House of Commons over the affair, and it emerged that, during their relationship, she had also been involved with a Soviet intelligence officer and assistant naval attache in London.

Emma Williams caused her own headlines this autumn over Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Sound of Music, which opens tonight (15 November 2006) at the West End’s London Palladium. Williams was due to be an alternate Maria Von Trapp, but after How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher announced her intention to perform all eight weekly shows, Williams withdrew from the productions just days before the start of rehearsals (See News, 22 Sep 2006).

Williams first rose to prominence when, as a newcomer herself, she was cast as Truly Scrumptious opposite Michael Ball in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Her other stage credits include Bat Boy at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and in the West End, Sex, Chips and Rock 'n' Roll at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, Promises, Promises at Sheffield Crucible and Tomorrow Morning at the New End Theatre in Hampstead.

A Model Girl is written by Richard Alexander and Marek Rymaszewski who spoke to Keeler, now 64, through her lawyers. The musical is directed by Ruth Carney and is produced under Greenwich Theatre’s Arts Council-supported Musical Futures programme.

Alexander said: “All great musicals are often set against the backdrop of historic watersheds. They tell the emotional tales of personal stories in times of change, stress and revolution. The Profumo scandal has always been a musical waiting to be written.” He added: “In my view, it is an iconic tale and the defining moment when private life became public property.”

- by Caroline Ansdell