Pet Shop Boys to premiere new musical at the Edinburgh Fringe

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THE OUTRAGEOUS club hostess Billie Trix is set to return in a brand new musical by Pet Shop Boys and Jonathan Harvey due to premiere on this year’s Festival Fringe, the Evening News can exclusively reveal.

Multi-award-winning Frances Barber will reprise the role she first played 18 years ago in Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s West End musical Closer To Heaven when the 50-minute, one-woman show Musik opens in the Capital.

With a book by Jonathan Harvey and six songs by Tennant and Lowe, including four new ones written specially for this show, Musik will run from 5 to 24 August at Assembly Rooms’ Bijou venue, on George Street.

Announcing the show, Pet Shop Boys, who have now sold more than 50 million records worldwide, said: “When we wrote Closer to Heaven almost 20 years ago, we loved the compelling outrageousness of the character Bille Trix as written by Jonathan and performed by Frances Barber.

“We have all discussed for many years the idea of creating her own one-woman show which would give us the chance to write more songs for her as she looks back on her incredible career.

“We’re thrilled that this show is finally happening.”

More than three years in the making, the show was first mooted for the festival in 2016 when, talking on BBC Radio 2, Lowe revealed, “We have been in discussion with Jonathan Harvey about writing a one woman show for Billie Trix, played by Frances Barber, and taking it to Edinburgh... Edinburgh doesn’t know about this by the way.”

At the time Tennant described the show as “almost like a cabaret piece”.

The character, an ageing club hostess, would “tell us the story of her life and sing us a few songs,” Lowe continued, adding, “We are very excited about that and hopefully that will happen.”

With it now confirmed for August, writer Harvey, a regular script-writer on Coronation Street, added, “It has been such a treat reconnecting and working with Chris and Neil on this, 20 years after our first foray into musical theatre writing.

“In Musik, Billie, dried up, drug-addled icon and rock star, tells us about her life and sings her biggest hits.

“I can’t wait to see Frances Barber inhabit her again as she did so hilariously and so touchingly all those years ago.”

Barber is best known for her roles in Doctor Who, in which she played Madame Kovaria, and the court room drama Silk, in which she played barrister Caroline Warwick QC.

Pet Shop Boys, who last played Edinburgh in 2017, are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records.

Since 1985 they have achieved 42 Top 30 singles, 22 of them Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including four UK number ones.

It is believed they will spend some time in the Capital during August with the production.

Produced by Cahoots Theatre Company, demand is expected to be high when tickets go on sale at 10am, Thursday 18 April via www.assemblyfestival.com.

Musik, 5-24 August, Assembly Rooms, Bijou Venue, George Street, 9.40pm, £12-£16.50, 0131-226 0000