Ronan Keating will make his West End debut later this year, taking on the lead role in Olivier Award-winning musical Once from 17 November at the Phoenix Theatre.
The singer-songwriter will play Guy in the touching tale about an Irish busker and young Czech mother who meet through a shared love of music, taking over from current cast member David Hunter.
Keating, who shot to fame in the 90s as one fifth of Irish pop band Boyzone and later forged a successful solo career with hits including When You Say Nothing At All, If Tomorrow Never Comes and Lovin’ Each Day, has had plenty of experience performing on stage, but his appearance in the musical will mark his stage acting debut.
The musician described his forthcoming foray into musical theatre as “a huge challenge and commitment”, but hopes that his affinity to the story’s setting will allow him to feel at home in the role: “When I was asked about playing the lead male (who is a busker in Dublin) I was completely overwhelmed because I knew it would be perfect – this was my home town, my people and the place where I began my own music career.”
Featuring a book by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, Once won a pair of Olivier Awards at this year’s ceremony including the first ever prize for Outstanding Achievement in Music, which recognised Martin Lowe’s compositions, and Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s music and lyrics.
The current cast of Once includes Jill Winternitz, Fiona Bruce, Jamie Cameron and Jez Unwin, but it has not yet been announced who will join Keating on stage at the Phoenix Theatre in November.
The production, which is soon to see the Boyzone star take on hit songs including Leave, Say It To Me Now, Falling Slowly and Gold, is currently booking until 4 July 2015.