London run for Blunkett the musical

Simon McGee Political Editor DAVID Blunkett – The Musical, the story of the former Home Secretary's rise to power and his affair with Spectator magazine publisher Kimberly Quinn, is set to open in London's West End next spring.

Trailed as the potential big hit of this year's Edinburgh Festival, the show had been due for a week-long run at the Fringe in August.

But huge interest has prompted producers to cancel the dates and concentrate on the show's West End debut instead.

York-based theatre impresario Martin Witts, US songwriter MJ Paranzino and Times journalist Ginny Dougary are the team behind the musical.

The Yorkshire Post has learned that negotiations are under way with three competing West End theatres for a March or April launch and that the all-star cast of the Soho preview earlier this year have been signed up for the full run.

The star of BBC1's Dead Ringers, Mark Perry, will take on the lead role of the Sheffield Brightside MP, while the part of Mrs Quinn is expected to be played by Glyndebourne star Lynne Davies.

The show also tracks the extra-marital affair of Spectator editor, Tory MP Boris Johnson with his columnist Petronella Wyatt.

Mr Johnson, known in the musical as the Sultan of the Sextator, will be played by Robert Bathurst, best known for television roles in Cold Feet and My Dad's The Prime Minister.

His lover "Petsy" will be portrayed by singer-actress Zigi Ellison.

The production, full title Dangerous Liaisons at the Sextator – David Blunkett the Musical, was so well received after the Soho showing in April that Mr Witts is hopeful the show can secure a long run

"It's a full-blown musical, not a cheap jibe," he said. "Subject matter alone wouldn't be enough for it to succeed. It has to be a quality production."

Mr Witts said eight songs – including the Boris Rap – had been completed so far.

Mr Witts stressed that the musical, telling the story of Mr Blunkett's life since he was 12 years old, did not intend to pass judgment on the politician.

"It is slightly tongue-in-cheek in parts but then it's quite serious in others. Overall it's just good fun," he said.

Although not expecting Mr Blunkett to attend, Mr Witts added: "I would hope that he'd come. I'm sure he'd enjoy it."

simon.mcgee@ypn.co.uk