Jason Donovan to leave hit musical Priscilla. The Bill star Ben Richards to take over as Tick.

Ben Richards as Tick in Priscilla

Jason Donovan, the star of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, is to leave the show this June. Donovan, who led the first UK cast of the show in the starring role of Tick, has appeared in the musical since March 2009.

The role of Tick will be taken over by Ben Richards, best known for playing hunky PC Nathaniel Roberts in ITV drama The Bill. Britain’s longest-running police drama, The Bill was recently axed by ITV in a prime-time shakeup that sees the drama end its run on UK screens this autumn.

As well as his high-profile TV work in shows including Footballer’s Wives, Ben Richards  is also a musical theatre star having played numerous roles including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty.

Richards told the Daily Mail, “If I’m scared, I’m happy. It’s a challenge… And it’s a gay character and I want to play it right. Hopefully, I can nail it.’

Ben Richards as himself!

The Olivier award-winning show has also extended its booking period to May 2011.  The other main cast members remain the same including Don Gallagher as Bernadette, Oliver Thornton as Adam and John Bowe as Bob.

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