Barrymore to star as Scrooge in city

TROUBLED TV star Michael Barrymore is set to make the next step of his comeback starring in the stage musical Scrooge in Edinburgh.

The actor and comedian will appear at the city's Festival Theatre in January when the West End hit production goes on national tour, it was announced today.

Barrymore moved to New Zealand and out of the public eye after being embroiled in scandal following the mysterious death of 31-year-old Stuart Lubbock on his estate in 2001.

A stint as a contestant on reality show Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year saw his return to the small screen before landing the lead role in the musical.

Today, theatre bosses backed the controversial performer to be a hit in the Capital when he treads the boards early next year.

Darrell Williams, head of sales and marketing at the Festival Theatre, said today: "We are delighted to bring Leslie Bricusse's fantastic musical to the Festival Theatre stage to brighten up those cold February nights. Above all it's a great family show and, with the multi-talented Michael Barrymore in the title role, Scrooge is the perfect musical to get the New Year off to a spectacular start"

The musical, which is based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, will run between January 29 and February 10, with tickets going on sale from the theatre's box office on October 6. The show, produced by renowned impresario Bill Kenwright, enjoyed a sell-out season last Christmas at the London Palladium with Tommy Steele starring.

As well as Edinburgh, the star will perform at venues in Aberdeen, Wolverhampton and Sunderland. Theatregoers at some of the other venues demanded refunds after learning Barrymore was to take the starring role.

Today, Barrymore, 54, said: "I'm delighted to be taking to the stage again to lead this magical musical. Scrooge is Dickens's greatest character and playing this role is a challenge that I relish."

Mr Lubbock, a meat factory worker from Harlow, Essex, was discovered face-down in the swimming pool of Barrymore's mansion in nearby Roydon, in March, 2001, after a party. He had sustained serious internal injuries but an open verdict was recorded at his inquest. In February, a judge blocked an attempt to launch a private prosecution against the former host of Strike It Lucky and My Kind of People by Mr Lubbock's family.

The family of the 31-year-old were told there was not enough evidence to continue their action against the former television presenter.

Mr Lubbock's father, Terry, 61, attempted to take out the private prosecution while Barrymore was taking part in Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4.

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