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MUSICAL

CHICAGO

STEFAN BOOTH has been wowing them all this week at the Edinburgh Playhouse as Billy Flynn in Chicago. At the press night on Monday, his mellifluous vocals - mellow, warm and reminiscent of the classic lounge singers of the 30s - made his performance as the crafty lawyer something special indeed.

Catching up with the 32-year-old, who first came to public attention in Hollyoaks, he admits singing has always been important to him.

“I’ve actually done lot of session work, whether on other people’s dance tracks or on something a little more experimental,” he reveals. “I’m working on my own material at the moment, although it is taking ages because I only ever get a couple of months in the studio at a time before another job comes along.”

Most recently seen on TV as Greg Jessop in EastEnders, Stefan’s current role reunites him with his Hollyoaks co-star Ali Bastian and Bernie Nolan - all three (pictured below) also starred in ITV’s long-running cop drama The Bill.

“That’s what is really nice about this tour, we are spending a lot of time with each other...

“Oh my God, it’s actually 11 years since Ali was my partner in Hollyoaks,” he realises. “Like a fine cheese she has got better with age,” he grins.

Stefan is keeping busy off stage while he is in the Capital, too.

Tomorrow, in his capacity as an ambassador for Kidney Research UK, the actor will visit the Western General Hospital to meet researcher Dr Peter Hohenstein at the hospital’s MRC Human Genetics Unit.

Dr Hohenstein and his colleagues are nearing the end of a three-year project create new kidney cells from stem cells which it is hoped will then be used to treat patients as an alternative to kidney transplantation.

Explaining why he became an ambassador, Stefan says, “When I was growing up, my mum was always in and out of hospital with a kidney disease called PKD.”

Stefan’s mum died recently, but not before her illness spurred him on to look for a charity he could support - his siblings also have PKD. He doesn’t.

“Last year, after mentioning about my mum in an interview, Kidney Research UK got in touch and asked if I would support them. It’s a really special charity, not just because it’s close to my heart, and I would have been involved with it anyway had mum not died, it’s just gutting that she did, but at least she knew, which was fantastic. It’s special because although it doesn’t get any government funding, they have found a mutant gene that causes the problem and now they must find the drugs to combat that. So even though it’s too late for my mum, it’s not too late for other people in the same predicament.”

Chicago, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, until Saturday, various times, £13.50-£35, 0844-871 3014