Dust off your dancing shoes as rock’n’roll musical Save The Last Dance For Me heads to Sunderland next month.
Though the jukebox musical comes from the same stable as the successful Dreamboats and Petticoats production, cast member Antony Costa says it has an important story all of its own.
“It doesn’t continue the story of Dreamboats, it introduces people to new characters,” explained the actor who rose to fame as one quarter of boy band Blue.
“It’s based around these two sisters in the early ’60s who meet a couple of American airmen who invite them to dance with them at the base, with Marie and Curtis ending up falling in love.”
The nostalgic show transports audiences back to the swinging ’60s with tracks such as Sweets for my Sweet, Please Mr Postman, Viva Las Vegas, Can’t Get Used to Losing You, the title track Save the Last Dance For Me and more.
Antony, who plays airman Milton, added: “It’s a lovely love story but it also has an important message. Inter-racial relationships were often frowned upon back then, there was a lot of ignorance and prejudice and it’s about their journey and struggle.
“But as well as a great story, you have this fantastic music. It’s so good to sing these songs every night.”
Though he’s most well-known for being in Blue, Antony is no stranger to the stage and has appeared in Blood Brothers in the West End and Boogie Nights on tour.
Speaking about what attracted him to the role of Milton, he said: “I went for the part because I loved the script and because it’s a Bill Kenwright production and they’re a great team, I auditioned straight away, as soon as I read the script. Milton’s a wheeler dealer, he loves chatting up the girls, but he’s a lovable rogue.”
Antony stars alongside X Factor finalist Lola Saunders, from East Boldon, who plays Jennifer, as well as Washington-born actress Elizabeth Carter who reprises her role as Marie on this new tour.
“Me and Lola knew each other before, as we have the same management, she’s a great girl,” said Antony. “She’s been coming to me for advice, like helping her with her accent. It’s her debut in a musical theatre production, but she’s doing an amazing job, she’s really hard-working.
“We’ve been on tour for a couple of weeks now and it’s getting a great reaction. My mum came the other day and she said it was two-and-a-half hours of bliss where you can forget about your troubles and get lost in the music.
“Hopefully the North East crowd will be up on their feet, they always seem up for a good time. That’s one of the great things about musical theatre, every audience is different. They’re not here for you, they’re here for the show. As long as they leave with a smile on their face you know you’ve done a good job.”
Speaking of her theatrical debut, Lola, who’s swapped gutting fish at Latimer’s in Whitburn for the stage spotlight, said: “It’s insane, it’s totally new to me and I just can’t believe it.
“I never thought in a million years that I’d end up getting a part in a show like this. I feel really honoured.”
During his time with Blue, Antony was part of one of the biggest British boy bands of the noughties, who enjoyed chart success with three number one albums and 11 top ten singles including their debut song All Rise.
They disbanded in 2004 before reuniting in 2011 and release a fifth album, Colours, last year.
Antony says although he’s enjoying treading the boards, Blue is still very much part of his life.
“We have a few things in the pipeline, but I’m doing this tour until October and that may get extended, then I’m in panto in Gravesend in Kent,” he said. “The lads will be coming to see the show in a couple of weeks. We all support each other, we’re brothers.
“Everyone was so positive and polite when we came back, it’s just nice to be recognised for what you do. The noughties was a great time to be in a band.
“We had a lot of highlights, but I think winning Best Newcomer at the Brits in 2002 was a real pinnacle, it put us on the map. There were also the duets with Elton John and Stevie Wonder, but to be recognised for doing good British music was amazing.”
Speaking about his love for the stage, Antony said: “Musical theatre is my passion. You never know what path life will take you on, you just take opportunities when they arise. After Blue, Blood Brothers came up, I wasn’t known in the public eye for acting, but Bill Kenwright and his team gave me a chance, they’re great for doing that.”
•Save The Last Dance For Me is at Sunderland Empire from May 9-14. For tickets visit the box office in High Street West, contact the ticket centre on 0844 871 3022 or buy online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.
•We have a pair of tickets to give away to Save The Last Dance For Me at Sunderland Empire on May 9. To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: in which boy band did Antony rise to fame?
C) Backstreet Boys
Email your answer, name and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk Closing date: May 4.