Justin Lee Collins is a comedian and TV presenter known for programmes including The Saturday Night Project and the series of documentaries entitled Bring Back…, in which he attempts to reunite the cast members of shows including The A Team and Grange Hill. Speaking about his role in Chicago, he said: “I’m over the moon to be playing the sexiest part in the best show on the West End stage. I’ve already gone through a dozen pairs of tights.’’
Lee Collins joins current cast members Aoife Mulholland (Roxie Hart), Tiffany Graves (Velma Kelly), Ian Kelsey as (Billy Flynn) and Brenda Edwards (Mama Morton), replacing Victor McGuire as Amos Hart. His performance is being filmed as part of a documentary due to be broadcast on Sky One in the new year.
The current revival of Chicago opened at the Cambridge Theatre (where the musical’s original London production ran for 603 performances from April 1979) on 28 April 2006, after eight-and-a-half years at the Adelphi Theatre. It won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production as well as the 1998 Critics\' Circle Award for Best Musical.
Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The current stage revival, which transferred from Broadway, is directed by Walter Bobbie and designed by John Lee Beatty, with choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse.
In other West End casting news, original company member Camille O’Sullivan is rejoining La Clique for its current run at the London Hippodrome. The “legendary songstress” is known for her dramatic interpretations of the songs of artists including Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill, Nick Cave, Hans Eisler, Bowie and Tom Waits, and has toured internationally. She rejoins La Clique from 5 December 2008.
La Clique, which recently extended its run at the newly reopened Hippodrome (See News, 20 Nov 2008), is a mixture of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety. The eclectic assortment of acts includes: Norwegian contortionist Captain Frodo; Spanish stripper Ursula Martinez; Germany bathtub-diving aerialist David O’Mer; hula hoopist Yulia Pikhtina from Kiev; strongmen the English Gents (in fact Australian); London’s own PVC-clad fetishist Miss Behave; New York alternative comedian and Freddy Mercury reincarnation Mario; and Mikelangelo, the “Bull of the Balkans” baritone troubadour.
La Clique has performed seasons around the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Montreal, Dublin and New York in addition to regular summer stints at the Edinburgh Fringe, where it’s annually one of the hottest tickets at the festival. It’s presented in London by La Clique Productions, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin.
- By Theo Bosanquet