An American small screen star from the Eighties will replace an American big screen star from the same decade in Guys and Dolls in the New Year. From January (exact dates tbc), Don Johnson (pictured) – who became a household name thanks to his role in American TV cop series Miami Vice - will follow in the footsteps Dirty Dancing’s Patrick Swayze to play the role of gambling man Nathan Detroit in Michael Grandage’s multi award-winning production at the West End’s Piccadilly Theatre.

Though best known for his television success, Johnson started his career on stage in the musical Your Own Thing. Guys and Dolls marks his West End debut. As well as Miami Vice, his other credits include: Nash Bridges and Just Legal on television; A Boy and His Dog, The Harrad Experiment and The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart on film: and Fortune and Men’s Eyes on stage in Los Angeles. Johnson is also a recording artist with two albums to his name.

In the weeks between Swayze and Johnson, Briton Alex Ferns, best known for his role as Trevor in EastEnders, taking over from Swayze who finishes his extended contract on 2 December 2006. Ferns’ other television credits include Making Waves, Doctors, Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, Wings, Holby City and Taggart.. He has also starred in several London plays, including Coyote on a Fence and Art in the West End and I.D. at the Almeida.

Following his stint in the West End, Ferns will continue to play Nathan Detroit in the UK touring production of the musical in Sunderland (6 to 17 February 2007) and Milton Keynes (27 February to 10 March 2007). The West End production currently stars – alongside Swayze - Samantha Janus, Amy Nuttall and Norman Bowman (See News, 29 Sep 2006).

Based on Damon Runyon’s short stories about New York gamblers and their girls in the 1940s, Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical was made into a 1953 Hollywood film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra. The current London production is designed by Christopher Oram, with choreography by Rob Ashford, musical supervision by Jae Alexander, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Terry Jardine and Chris Full. It’s presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group and Live Nation in association with the Donmar Warehouse.

- by Caroline Ansdell