Featuring a book by Jon Conway — who created the touring musical Boogie Nights that Essex starred in the sequel of, Boogie Nights 2 in 2005 — the musical is set around a traveling funfair (county fair), providing the focal point for what press materials describe as "a musical merry-go-round of love, loss, laughter and loyalty, all played out against a stunning score courtesy of the hits of David Essex which powerfully underpin the events as they unfold."
Essex plays funfair owner Levi Lee, who is coming to terms with the death of his wife and the attentions of another woman, Rosa (Louise English) whilst struggling to deal with the tangled love life and ambitions of his rebellious teenage son Jack (Paul Ryan Carberry).
Inspired by Essex's debut album "All The Fun of the Fair," it is a project that Essex has long been keen to bring to fruition, and he has worked with Conway on script development, incorporating such hits from his past repertoire as "Hold Me Close" and "Gonna Make You a Star" (both of which reached Number One in the charts), "Winter's Tale," "Me and My Girl Nightclubbing," "Silver Dream Machine" and "Rock On," amongst some 23 Top 30 hits he has to his name. The show is directed by Nikolai Foster, who last year directed a new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects of Love that also starred Essex in the role of Uncle George. Foster's other directorial credits include Assassins and A Chorus Line at Sheffield's Crucible, A Streetcar Named Desire at Theatr Clwyd in Wales, Of Mice and Men at Colchester's Mercury Theatre, and Season's Greetings at Liverpool Playhouse.
Essex was last seen on the London stage in Footloose – the Musical at the Novello Theatre in 2006, when he played the role of Reverend Shaw Moore. He played the role of Jesus in the original London production of Godspell in 1971, when he was age 23, and later went on to originate the role of Che in the first production of Evita at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1978. He regularly undertakes solo concert tours, the most recent of which – billed as the "Happy Ever After" tour, spanned three months earlier this year.
Also in the cast are David Burrows, Stefan Butler, Tanya Robb, Emma Thornett, Barry Bloxham, Chris Cosby, Sue Hallam Wright, Phil Lawton, Nicola Bryant, Karl Patrick and Lara Denning. The production will tour to Bromley's Churchill Theatre (Sept. 12-20), Darlington's Civic Theatre (Sept. 22-27), Stoke's Regent Theatre (Sept. 30-Oct. 4), Brighton's Theatre Royal (Oct. 6-11), Southend's Cliffs Pavilion (Oct. 13-18), Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre (Oct. 20-25), Manchester's Palace Theatre (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), Glasgow's Kings Theatre (Nov. 3-8), Bradford's Alhambra Theatre (Nov. 10-15), Woking's New Victoria Theatre (Nov. 17-22), Dartford's Orchard Theatre (Nov 24-29), Cardiff's New Theatre (Dec. 1-6), Nottingham's Theatre Royal (Jan. 26-31, 2009), Wimbledon's New Theatre (Feb. 2-7), Milton Keynes Theatre (Feb. 9-14), Norwich's Theatre Royal (Feb 23-28), Belfast's Grand Opera House (Mar. 2-7), Birmingham Hippodrome (Mar. 9-14), Hull's New theatre (Mar. 17-21), Sunderland Empire (Mar. 23-28), Southampton's Mayflower (Apr. 6-11), Liverpool Empire (Apr. 13-18), High Wycombe's Wycombe Swan (Apr. 20-25), Swansea's Grand (Apr. 27-May 2), Northampton's Derngate (May 4-9), Llandudno's Theatre Cymru (May 11-16) and Bristol Hippodrome (May 25-30).
For further details and box office telephone numbers for each theatre, visit www.allthefunofthefairmusical.com.