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Tommy Steele takes on Scrooge

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CHART-TOPPING veteran, Tommy Steele, will play the title role in Scrooge, Leslie Bricusse's musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, when it opens at the London Palladium on November 8, 2005 (previews from October 20) - until January 14, 2006.

Scrooge is, of course, the story of the miserly Ebenezer, to whom everything - including Christmas - is 'humbug'. Until, that is, one particular Christmas Eve, he's visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and more alarmingly, Christmas Future.

The score includes I Hate Christmas, It's Not My Fault, I'll Begin Again and Better Life.

Scrooge first appeared as a film back in 1970 and starred the wonderful Albert Finney, who won an Oscar for his performance. Later, in 1992, it was staged in Birmingham, with Bricusse's long-time collaborator, Anthony Newley in the title role.

Steele, though, is no stranger to the part, having performed it over the past two festive seasons - in Manchester and Birmingham.

It's difficult to believe, but Steele's career began way back in the 1950s with a string of chart hits (hands up all those who remember Handful of Songs and Little White Bull). Then, in 1963, he starred in Half a Sixpence, not only in the West End but also on Broadway. And later, in 1967, he reprised his role in the Hollywood film version.

His other films include Finian's Rainbow, The Happiest Millionaire and The Tommy Steele Story.

On stage, many of Steele's biggest successes have been at the London Palladium - in shows such as Hans Christian Anderson, The London Palladium Show, Dick Whittington and Singin' in the Rain which ran for 894 performances and which Steele himself directed.

As a tribute to his achievments there, the Palladium is displaying a plaque in his honour.

Steele also appeared regularly on television and even had his own variety show, The Tommy Steele Hour. Those were the days.....

Meanwhile, Bricusse's other major works include Stop the World - I want to Get Off, Pickwick and Doctor Dolittle.

As a matter of interest, a separate production of Scrooge, with EastEnders' Shane Richie in the lead, will be staged at the Bristol Hippodrome from December 6, 2005 to January 21, 2006.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently showing at the London Palladium where it completes its run on September 4, 2005.

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