Sid Langley meets the star of the show opening at the Alexandra Theatre tonight...
Radio 2 listeners have just voted on their favourite musicals. Les Miserables was first, followed by Phantom of the Opera and in third place was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
There's a link. Dave Willetts. The Midland-born performer (he still lives here) has uniquely starred in all three shows. Back in 1985 he was Jean Valjean in Trevor Nunn's RSC production in the West End. He went on to play the Phantom at Her Majesty's.
And he is now starring in the role made famous on film by Howard Keel, with Seven Brides opening at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre tonight.
The last time he trod the boards there, in his own words, "it was like a gang of mates coming round my house for a read-through."
That was when he joined Malcolm Stent, Jasper Carrott, Don Maclean and Lizzie Wiggins in Go Play Up Your Own End,the local comedy which has become an institution.
"It's a really special show," he says, "and it was so much fun to do."
The last time he was in Brides was three years ago.
"It's one of my favourite shows," he says. "If I didn't like it so much I wouldn't have been able to commit myself to a long run like this show."
There are 33 weeks on the date sheet at the moment and tentative hopes of a chance of a West End run after that.
"The songs are so good for a start," says Dave, "and technology has moved on so much from three years ago that we are able to have some really great new updated effects.
"The whole show has been completely revamped and recast - although Shona Lindsay is still the leading lady, and she's great - and the young dancers we have in this production are simply brilliant."
Dave is under no illusions about his own dancing abilities - "let's just say it's not my greatest asset, although when I get it all learned, I'm fine."
He laughs as he tells me of how he took the role of Old Deuteronomy in Cats.
"I thought, 'well sitting in an old tyre for most of the show is right up my street.' But when I got to rehearsals they handed me a white lycra suit, not the shaggy old thing I'd been expecting. It seems anyone playing Deuteronomy did the first 20 minutes of the show as a dancer."
Dave has been around the business for so many years that he has developed an instinct for shows.
"When I first did Mis I knew we had something special," he says, "and Phantom was the same." He has the same feeling about this current production of Brides. "It's such a great show, and the numbers are really spectacular," he says.
Is there anything else on the horizon that he has that special feeling about?
For seven or eight years he has been involved with putting together a musical version of the Jekyll and Hyde story. In fact, back in 1996 he created the role of the two-faced character in the world premiere of Jekyll when it opened at Bromley in Kent.
But this is a different concept. Provisionally titled The Man Inside, as far as I can gather it has more of a Sondheim feel to it.
That's not a bad thing from Dave's point of view, for he is closely associated with the work of Sondheim and has been critically acclaimed in several major roles, particularly the lead in Sweeney Todd.
If his instincts are anything to go by, The Man Inside could be yet another triumph for the star who makes such a good job of everything he tackles.
Judge for yourself at the Alex, where Seven Brides for Seven Brothers show runs until Saturday. Box office 08706077533