SHOWBIZ EXCLUSIVE 10/10/01
My kinda girl
By EMILY SMITH, TV News Editor
EX-BROOKSIDE beauty Claire Sweeney has signed up to star in the West End hit musical Chicago.
Claire, 30, will follow in Denise Van Outen’s fishnets and join the cast in December.
She is being lined up to play bad girl Velma Kelly, who is jailed for shooting her husband and sister after catching them canoodling.
She is also recording the song All That Jazz from the show for a Sony Christmas compilation of West End musical tracks.
Like the famous Frank Sinatra song about Chicago, My Kind Of Town, producers decided Claire was their kinda gal.
A show insider said: “Claire has been tipped for the role for a long time, but it’s really going to happen now.
“Fans will see her on stage by Christmas.”
Claire, voted Rear of the Year, first shot to fame as Brookside lesbian Lindsey Corkhill.
She became a favourite with viewers after she appeared on Celebrity Big Brother with Anthea Turner and Jack Dee.
She caught Chicago bosses’ attention by singing on the Channel 4 show and winning Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes as Celine Dion.
Claire is to front a £400,000 Marks & Spencer lingerie campaign and has a £250,000 deal to host ITV show Challenge of a Lifetime.
The star, who started her career singing on cruise ships, recently revealed it was her dream to sing in West End hit Chicago.
Claire, who is dating theatre impresario Adam Kenwright, 31, said: “I have always wanted to be on the stage in a big West End production.
“I have done a number of auditions for Chicago, and I really hope I get the part.”
Denise Van Outen, 27, recently finished a fivemonth stint as murderess Roxie Hart in the show.
But Claire is being lined up to take the other lead role as Velma in the production.
An announcement on her signing is expected in the next few weeks.
Claire will join Yazoo star Alison Moyet, 40, who has just signed as prison matron “Mama” Morton.
A spokesman for Claire said: “Nothing has been confirmed as yet. Talks are still ongoing but it’s looking good.”
Claire has said how shocked she is at the way her career soared after Celebrity Big Brother.
ITV bosses are even billing her “the new Cilla Black”.
She said: “I sometimes cannot believe what has happened.”