ACTOR Andy Rees is no stranger to musicals. Since he graduated from drama school the 31-year-old has rarely been out of work, appearing in a string of West End favourites such as The Rocky Horror Show, Legally Blonde, A Chorus Line and Mama Mia.
But he admits it's his latest role as Rocky in Tonight's The Night that he's particularly pleased to be in. Not least because he gets to sing songs from the cannon of one of the most successful singer songwriters of all time - Rod Stewart.
The Wimbledon-based actor is currently mid way through a UK tour of the jukebox musical which includes a week at the New Wimbledon Theatre from March 17.
Written by comedic legend Ben Elton, it tells the story of Stu, a shy and geeky young man from the back streets of Chicago, so tongue tied that he cannot find the courage to declare his love to the girl of his dreams.
However one night he strikes a deal with the Devil, trading his soul for that of his hero, Rod Stewart. It seems like a good idea at the time but he finds out the hard way that you can’t find true love using another man’s moves and that devil or no devil, there’s only one Rod Stewart.
"It's a bit Faustian," laughs Andy. "The lead, Stu, is in love with a girl called Mary and sells his soul in order to win her love. The story is really what happens after that.
"I play Rocky who is a bit of a tragic character. He's Stu's best friend but he's also in love with Mary which is a bit awkward so he keeps it a secret.
"Stu ends up as a bit of a rock star and when he goes off on tour, Rocky declares his undying love for Mary but she's in love with Stu.
"Rocky's gutted as you can imagine but he ends up with Dee Dee though so it's not all bad," he adds chuckling.
"It's a bit like Mama Mia in the way it uses Rod's songs to help tell the story," he adds by way of explanation.
Since the original production which graced the West End in 2003, the narrative has been tweaked to bring it bang up to date.
"Ben Elton came along while we were rehearsing for this tour," says Andy. "He spent a lot of time with us making script changes and bringing in some topical jokes so it's slightly different to the original.
"He's a brilliant writer and it was an honour to meet him especially as I'm a big fan!" he says.
"It's very clever in the way it's constructed as it's part musical theatre and part concert. I've never been in a show before which has this level of energy but I'm absolutely loving it."
So is he a fan of the mighty man's music I ask?
"It was quite nervewracking when I was offered the role because I wasn't familiar with all his material," he admits. "But that's the great thing about this show because now I've really got into the music and find myself singing his stuff at home!
"Rod is an amazing songwriter and the songs are beautifully constructed. I've got lots of favourites but I Don't Wanna Talk About It is pretty special. It's a lovely song and I get to sing it on stage - it and really gets the audience going!
"Doing a show like this, it's a real laugh and very much a good night out," he adds warmly. "It's a high energy show. We want to have a party on stage and so the audience party along with us.
"I'm always amazed though. People come along and sing along with us night after night. It's brilliant! They sing every single song from the start to finish. There is a lot of love for the show so it's very special to be part of that."
And he says he can't wait to be bringing it to his home town.
"I live in Wimbledon and so to be performing at my local theatre will be very special," he says warmly.
"I've lived here about five years and really like it. But I've never been in a production here! I have worked in the theatre's wardrobe department in between jobs a few times so I know the building well.
"My job was to look after the costumes and make sure they were in the right places.
"It was great fun actually because you get to see bits of the backstage stuff that you don't fully appreciate when you are a performer so it was really interesting.
"And it's a lovely theatre - with fantastic audiences and so to be performing on home soil after so long of wanting to is going to be amazing," he says.
"I know Rod came along when the show had its original West End run but he's not seen this particular tour," he adds.
"I'd love to meet him though so I hope he comes to see us at some point - and if he came to to see it in Wimbledon, well that would be magic!"
Tonight's The Night is at the New Wimbledon Theatre from March 17 until March 22.
Call the box office 0844 871 7646 or visit www.atgtickets.com/wimbledon