The cast of Chicago will be joined by Strictly Come Dancing winner Jill Halfpenny (pictured), who struts her way into the role of murderess Roxie Hart from January 2005 (exact date tbc). The ex-EastEnders star follows in the footsteps of Jennifer Ellison and Claire Sweeney in the Kander and Ebb musical, now entering its eighth West End year at the Adelphi Theatre. Ellison and Sweeney are both former soap stars turned reality contest winners themselves. After their respective stints on Brookside, Sweeney triumphed in Celebrity Big Brother while Ellison won chef Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen (See News, 17 Aug 2004).
Another ex-Roxie, Musicality winner Rebecca Dent, joins Saturday Night Fever at the Apoll Victoria. Dent fought off competition from 2,000 other hopefuls to win last month’s first Musicality series and the chance to play Roxie for one night only (See News, 23 Nov 2004). From 24 January 2005, she’ll take over from Kym Marsh - yet another reality star who became a member of the chart band Hear’Say after the first-ever series of Popstars - playing the part of Annette, in the Bee Gees musical.
Finally, recent Popstars: The Rivals winner, Daniel Pearce, who was voted into the boyband One True Voice, will join Jailhouse Rock. From 27 December 2004, he’ll take over from Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Gilz Terera, in the role of Quickly Robinson. The stage musical adaptation of Elvis Presley’s seminal 1957 film, runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until April 2005, when it celebrates its first birthday (having opened on 19 April 2004, previews from 26 March), and then transfers to the Albery Theatre (See News, 14 Dec 2004).
- by Hannah Kennedy