SWAPPING his builder’s belt for a courtroom, Stefan Booth is revelling in his latest role as Billy Flynn in Chicago.
The ex-EastEnders and Hollyoaks star is following in the footsteps of names such as Jerry Springer, Ian Kelsey and Richard Gere, playing the infamous lawyer — the man with a perfect track record and who makes celebrities of his clients.
“My character is a smooth talking criminal lawyer — the best in Chicago — and very successful,” says the gifted actor.
“He could sell ice to Eskimos and has the ability to talk anyone round to anything. His job is to bail out Velma and Roxy from the jail they are both incarcerated in for murder.
“Velma has been ‘locked up’ for longer than Roxy but it is Roxy who needs £5,000 dollars for Flynn’s fee and her husband Amos is trying his hardest to get her the money.
“The scenes between Flynn and Amos have a really good dynamic, with Amos being so sweet and Flynn so scheming.
Jamie Bourne, who plays Amos has to be the best Amos I have ever seen — his take on the character is awesome.”
Stefan is joined in the show by Tupele Dorgu as Velma Kelly, Bernie Nolan as Mama Morton and fellow ex-Hollyoaks actor Ali Bastian.
“It’s great to be working with Ali again,” Stefan continues. “We auditioned for Hollyoaks at the same time and got our contracts together.
“After two years I left and went on to tour with the musical Summer Holiday and she stayed in the show. I then went on to do The Bill and so did Ali. And when I did Dancing on Ice Ali did Strictly Come Dancing. Our careers have moved in very similar directions and it’s great to be working with her again.”
The 32-year-old father-of-two has been married for five years to actress and model Debbie Flett and now lives in London.
“Based in London can be really difficult when you are on tour and it’s been really challenging leaving the family as my little boy is only one and my daughter is just three.
“I am going to be in the show for a year so it will be an epic journey but I am really grateful to be working when so many actors aren’t. I really do work hard though — and so do other people — and I do realise how lucky I am.
“I don’t think actors are meant to stay in one place for too long and at the moment I feel comfortably stretched.
“It’s nice to be on the stage. I don’t know an actor who doesn’t like being on the stage. When it goes right it’s brilliant and the reviews have been supportive and their has been some lovely feedback from audiences.”
But with Stefan’s success, there comes sadness. He lost his mother, Mish Booth, to a rare kidney disease in May and is now an ambassador for the charity Kidney Research UK using his celebrity profile to raise awareness of ‘the silent killer’.
“It was incredibly traumatic. My mum was only in her mid-60s when she died and I now realise there is never enough time when you know one of your parents is dying.
“Although she had been ill for many years, the end was really quick and I absolutely hate the fact that there are so many people having to go through what I did. It was around this time that I received my notice from EastEnders and, although I loved working on the show, I was grateful for the change.
“Mum went into hospital for one thing and died of another. If there was more money invested in kidney research there would be so much less heartache.
Kidney disease is a massive problem and doesn’t get the publicity it deserves.”
For those wishing to know more about raising money for Kidney Research UK, visit the website at www.kidneyresearchuk.org or follow the charity on twitter at @Kidney_Research.
Chicago will perform at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from Monday to Saturday, March 5 to 10 and tickets are available by calling 0844 871 3011 or by logging on to www.atgtickets.com/birmingham