Russell Grant is to star as the mysterious and sinister Mrs Meers in the UK fringe première of the Tony Award-winning tap musical Thoroughly Modern Millie
Thoroughly Modern Millie, set in the Roaring twenties flapper era, tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for money instead of love – a thoroughly modern aim in 1922, when women were just entering the workforce.
Millie soon begins to take delight in the flapper lifestyle, but problems arise when she checks into a hotel owned by Mrs Meers, the leader of a white slavery ring in China.
On its Broadway opening in 2002, it won six Tony Awards and five Drama Desk Awards, including the win for Best Musical at both award ceremonies.
Russell, who earned his credentials as a hoofer in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, said: “Once in a while a role comes along that you have secretly coveted.
“I started performing in theatre around 50 years ago and this is one of those roles – Mrs Meers!
“Among other recent offers on both stage and screen it was this role I had to get my hands on.
“Beatrice Lillie made the role so fabulous in the film and from the moment I saw her it was on my wish list of roles I always wanted to perform but was never likely to be offered – until now!”
Russell Grant found international fame through becoming the Astrologer Royal but before Her Majesty, the late Queen Mother patronised him he had a very successful career in theatre, TV and film.
His first role was for the very successful BBC TV’s Wednesday Play – he played a Welsh boy intent on arson!
From there he appeared in On The Buses, Please Sir!, The Fenn Street Gang, all the Doctor series starring both Barry Evans and Robin Nedwell.
For over 10 years he appeared in classics such as Canterbury Tales for BBC TV starring Joss Ackland and Barbara Jefford.
On stage he has toured Ivor Novello’s King’s Rhapsody and Rodger and Hammerstein’s The King and I.
He headed into the West End playing Slogger Williams with Chris Guard, Simon Le Bon and Keith Chegwin – at the time all unknowns – in the musical Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
During the period of astrological fame-nine years on BBC Breakfast Time and TV-AM – Russell appeared in panto and is to be seen this Christmas at Aylesbury Waterside in Cinderella.
Thoroughly Modern Millie, with music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan, and a book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan, will play at Theatro Technis, Crowndale Road, London NW1 from October 1 – 29.