Adrian Dunbar, everyone’s favourite straight-talking superintendent of AC 12, is set to make his West End debut next month in Cole Porter’s classic musical, Kiss Me, Kate.


The Line of Duty star is taking on the role of Fred Graham in this glitzy Shakespearean adaptation, with Broadway legend Stephanie J Block sitting opposite as his leading lady, Bartlett Sher as director and Anthony Van Laast as choreographer – who readers may recognise from ITV’s Mamma Mia! I have a Dream.

The result of this impressive joint CV is a show whose cast and crew have a grand total of 20 Tony awards between them, leaving prospective audiences, and indeed Dunbar, feeling very safe in their hands: "These people really know what they’re doing, it’s just down to me to screw the whole thing up."

Speaking exclusively to at a special sneak peak, the actor joked: "Everything else about it is amazing, the costumes, the cast, so if it goes wrong, you can blame me."

But despite this slight underselling of his role, Dunbar is in fact no stranger to the world of singing and musicals. Looking back at his start in the industry he said: "I’ve always loved musicals. I used to absolutely love Fred Astaire and my mother was a fabulous soprano who did all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

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Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J. Block at the sneak peak of Kiss Me Kate.
Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J. Block at the sneak peak of Kiss Me Kate. Neil P. Mockford / Stringer / Getty

"But then of course when I came out of drama school in the '80s, there was the tense business of Northern Ireland, so there was quite a lot of acting work that was to do with that and, a lot of the time, it was for heavy drama roles."

As time went on, Dunbar found himself getting pulled further and further away from musicals and comedy roles, despite always wanting to do one. He said: “I had been banging onto my agents about musicals for some time, but I don’t think they really took it seriously, and then it just never happened.”

It took the 2022 series Ridley, for the actor’s dream to finally be realised. In the ITV drama, Dunbar stars as an ex-Detective Inspector Alex Ridley, who returns police work for one last case, which he takes on alongside running – and singing in – a jazz club. In a previous press Q&A, he shared that singing in the show was his own invention: "I really wanted to do something with music in it, so I suggested that he owned a jazz club," he said.

Thankfully, this idea served as a wake up call to those in the theatre business, and soon enough this new musical challenge came along.

Adrian Dunbar plays the piano and sings as Ridley
Adrian Dunbar plays the piano and sings as Ridley. ITV

"I think they wanted an actor, they didn’t necessarily want someone who was a musical theatre name to play this part opposite Stephanie. It’s going to be an interesting thing, putting those layers of reality into the show."

Now, with less than two weeks until previews start (on 4th June), Dunbar admitted that there’s still plenty of work to be done. For now, they’re just getting "looks and glimpses" of what the show will be. But he added: "We’re working very hard to make it our version of Kiss Me, Kate and I think we’re going in the right direction."

While he was keen to express that all the songs and best moments from the original musical are still there, this new adaptation will have a slightly modern feel, especially concerning the relationship between the two leads.

He said: "We’re not throwing the baby out of the bathwater, but it’s going to be more of a battle of equals between [myself and Stephanie]. Rather than her acquiescing to him and him 'Taming the Shrew', as it were."

He continued: "You’re going to see everything you expect, apart from those one or two moments you don’t need anymore, because they went too far."

Ultimately, Dunbar said that Kiss Me, Kate was one of the best and "biggest things" he’d ever been in, concluding: "The audience are really going to get their money’s worth."

Buy Kiss Me, Kate tickets at TodayTix

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When and where can I see Kiss Me, Kate?

Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block as leads in Kiss Me Kate
Adrian Dunbar and Stephanie J Block as leads in Kiss Me Kate. Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me, Kate will run for just 15 weeks at The Barbican from 4th June to 14th September 2024.

The show takes place every Monday to Saturday, with captioned performances on 24th July and 17th August, BSL performances on 31st July and 24th August, and audio-described on 17th July and 10th August.

This stunning theatre is easily accessible, with Moorgate (Hammersmith and City, Circle, Metropolitan and Northern lines) and Barbican (Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines) nearby, as well as a selection of bus routes.

How to buy Kiss Me, Kate tickets

You can find Kiss Me, Kate tickets across a range of theatre ticketing sites, but the best price we’ve found is at TodayTix and LOVE Theatre. At the moment, both of these are running their spring sale which cuts the price of tickets down to £25.

However, you can also find tickets at Ticketmaster and London Theatre Direct.


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