Suggs makes his West End debut tonight in Our House at the Cambridge. Members of Madness originally chose not to star in the musical based around their music, leaving the job to a large cast of young unknowns. But Suggs, like Boy George, who eventually took on a role in his musical Taboo, has had a change of heart.
Suggs' run will only last a week, however, while ex-Eastender Ian Reddington takes a break. The plot revolves around a young lad Joe (Michael Jibson) who commits a petty crime; he has the choice of two paths – to give himself up to the police or make a run for it – and the musical follows both. Suggs plays the ghost of Joe's father, who attempts to direct his sometimes wayward son onto the right path.
Our House, which won this year's Hilton Award for Best New Musical at the Laurence Olivier Awards, includes Madness hits Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love, House Of Fun, and My Girl. Suggs' character sings some of the new material written by Madness for the show, including a track called Simple Equation. Suggs said, after collecting the coveted Olivier statuette, "I would never have imagined twenty years ago when we were sat around writing those songs in a smelly rehearsal room in Camden Town that one day, not only would be in a theatre in the West End, but that I would get an Olivier award." Tim Firth, the writer of Our House, said that a musical that tried to fit itself around the music would not do the band justice. "If I thought it was going to be the songs that carried it, I would never have taken it on in the first place. I wasn't there to stitch together a load of songs or to just be the orchestrator of a big fly-past of great tunes."