Hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Andrew Lloyd Webber will cast the leads of a West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat via reality TV (See The Goss, 20 Dec 2006), David Ian – who worked with Lloyd Webber on How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and co-produced The Sound of Music - is launching his own show with The X Factor judge Simon Cowell (pictured) to cast a West End production of Grease.

Ian had already announced a US talent show to cast a Broadway production of the musical (See The Goss, 9 Aug 2006), with a programme co-produced with BBC Worldwide, hosted by Denise Van Outen and titled Grease: You're The One That I Want!. However, now he also has his eye on the West End. He has teamed up with Cowell to produce the TV programme in the UK, on rival station ITV1 after Cowell beat the BBC in a bidding war for the rights to the UK version of the show.

The London production of Grease will open in the West End in summer 2007, co-produced with Paul Nicholas. Auditions for the roles of Sandy and Danny, played in the hit 1978 movie by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, are expected to commence in the spring.

Cowell reportedly said: “Grease is the best musical on the planet. These two parts will be the most sought-after roles in the West End. It will work beautifully for us as a reality show. There will be a lot of twists.”

Grease premiered on Broadway in 1972 and is frequently revived. It was voted most popular musical in a Channel 4 poll and has had repeated West End seasons, interspersed with almost non-stop touring; so there should be no shortage of pink ladies, prom queens, T-birds and hip-swivelling heart-throbs hoping to catch some Grease Lightning.

Meanwhile, on BBC1, Any Dream Will Do - also to be broadcast in summer 2007 - will be hosted by How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’s Graham Norton. Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical – based on the biblical story of Jacob's son Joseph and his 11 brothers – started as a school musical in 1968 and was then expanded into a full stage show.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat received its Broadway premiere in 1982 and has been seen in the West End at the London Palladium (now home to The Sound of Music) and most recently in Bill Kenwright’s production, which featured former reality TV star Suzanne Shaw as the narrator and ran at the New London for two-and-a-half years until it closed in September 2005.

No dates or venues have yet been officially confirmed for the new runs of either Grease or Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

- by Caroline Ansdell