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Brief Encounter with... Tonight's the Night's Michael McKell

Michael McKell returns to the role of Stoner in the Rod Stewart jukebox musical, written by Ben Elton. The show begins a new tour in January at the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

What does it feel like coming back to Tonight's the Night?

Michael McKell

I love this character, so it was an offer I could not refuse.

Tell us a bit about Stoner?

Stoner is a classic British Rocker/Roamer/Romeo. A "if it's not fun, don't do it" kind of guy. Someone you would love to go out with but not live with. The first rule of Stoner is, there are no rules.

Is Rod Stewart involved in the show in anyway?

Rod has always been very supportive, bringing friends and family to the show.

You have met him, what's he like?

I played the Olympic Torch Lighting Concert with Rod and Ronnie Wood and the cast of the show. A very rock and roll moment when Rod put his arm around me and said "It's time for a drink". Rod came to the show many times and Penny appeared for a couple of weeks in the "Hot Legs" number. Rod is a gentleman. We had some good times. My kids loved Ronnie Wood – he called my daughter Claudia - "Princess".

What's your favourite song in the show and why?

"Stay With Me" as it's a great guitar rocker classic. I had the pleasure of working with my friend Tim Howard on the show. He is truly a great singer. He would rip up that song every night. Good times!

Why do you think jukebox musicals are popular?

Popular music is like a diary to people's lives. To revisit classic songs in this medium has the double pleasure of an audience knowing the songs and yet experiencing a theatrical event. This show is an event.

You are a very versatile actor/performer - having been on stage, screen and the recording studio. Have you got a preferred medium?

Music. I went back into the studio a couple of years ago and recorded an album "Shower Over Moon Street". I went on to play the Royal Albert Hall and performed "Save Me" which was great for my kids to see what I did before I became an actor.

You have starred in soap operas and the schedule is tough. Does that help prepare you for a touring musical?

TV and Film are long days, nights and more. Stage for me is all about the rehearsal period. I love it. Once you are in the theatre, especially touring away from home, your whole day is leading to those two hours in the evening. TV is acting under a microscope.

What do you love about touring?

New venues weekly and meeting new audiences.

Any downsides?

Missing my family.

Why should audiences see the show?

It's fun. A great cast with killer songs. Ben Elton has written a funny script with a heart and love of the music.

You are doing the tour until the end of April, what are your plans when it's finished?

I start a movie in May. Playing a bad guy again. That's why I love Stoner he is a good guy, just a bit naughty.

Tonight's the Night opens at Manchester's Palace Theatre on 20 January and also stars Jade Ewen. It tours the UK until 2 August, with Michael McKell appearing in it until 26 April. For full tour dates, visit the show's website.