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23 April 2010 @ 09:48 pm
My my officer, what an arresting outfit: The Bill actor shakes his derriere as Priscilla

Ben Richards is going from walking the beat on The Bill to shaking his derriere to it, in Priscilla on stage.

The actor, who also played bullying Bruno Milligan in Footballers' Wives, is wrapping up his role as Lothario in blue, PC Nate Jackson, in the long-running drama set in and around the fictional Sun Hill police station.

Ben decided to depart before he knew of ITV's decision to shut down the cop show.

Ben takes over from Jason Donovan in Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert The Musical at the Palace Theatre, London from June 1.

The show's become one of those guilty pleasures that people flock to when they want to let their hair, or whatever, down.

Ben takes the part of Tick, one of two drag-queen artists who join up with a transsexual (a part originated in the film version by Terence Stamp and, memorably, on the musical stage by Tony Sheldon) and travel in an old bus painted a shade of pink called salmon surprise (seriously) from Sydney across the Outback and beyond to Alice Springs.

Along the way the trio learn some hard-knock truths about others - and themselves.

More important, they squeeze themselves into stunning Olivier-award winning costumes created by Tim Chappel and Lizzie Gardiner, bedeck themselves with baubles, bangles and beads, and put on shows in the Outback, kicking up their mammoth platform heels to a pulsating disco soundtrack.

'The headgear's a bit heavy,' Ben confided.

Even though he started his career on the musical theatre stage and has played in Guys And Dolls, Grease, The Full Monty and Saturday Night Fever, to mention just a few, he's petrified by the job ahead of him.

'If I'm scared, I'm happy. It's a challenge. Can I pull it off, though? Never done drag before; never had hair out to here; never had so much make-up. And it's a gay character and I want to play it right. Hopefully, I can nail it.'

His wife can't wait to see him in stilettos. Don Gallagher and Oliver Thornton will continue with the show when Ben arrives on June 1.

Priscilla heads to Toronto late this year and there are plans to open in New York next year, where a show doctor will help guide it into place.

Current Music: Capercaillie - Breisleach