Read has been voted UK National Broadcaster of the Year ten times, and has fronted dozens of shows on music. He has also composed a catalogue of hit songs that have been recorded by the likes of Cliff Richard, David Essex, Slade, Alvin Stardust, Donovan, Don McLean and Leo Sayer. His career underwent a resurgence in 2004 when he starred in the reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.” His other stage musicals include Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol and Oh Puck! . Currently, he is writing a musical about the Village People, entitled YMCA The Musical and scheduled for production in 2005 with Read again to direct. Wilde tells the story of the controversial writer’s life. The cast includes Peter Blake — the original Pontius Pilate in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and the original Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat — as Wilde. Anita-Louise Combe plays Constance, having recently left the London cast of Chicago where she was one of the few actresses ever to play both leading roles of Roxie and Velma (though not at the same time). Chris Corcoran plays the Marquis of Queensbury, Jonathan Tatum is Bosie.
The show heralds a new era at the Shaw, hitherto a theatre that was rather lost, with no discernible artistic policy. Now, the owners of Hampstead’s trendy fringe venue, the New End Theatre, have leased the Shaw and have pledged to turn it into a receiving-house for good-quality, small-scale musicals. At present the center of London offers precious-few spaces for musicals that are not gigantic (although Cameron Mackintosh is to build the medium-size Sondheim Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue).
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