IT will be a special homecoming for one nomadic actor.

Used to a life on the road as he tours with the cast of Cats, Hampshire's own Kevin Stephen-Jones will be appearing at Mayflower Theatre for the next two weeks as the smash-hit musical returns to Southampton.

Born in Eastleigh and brought up in Sway in the New Forest, Kevin has been a regular on the Mayflower stage since childhood.

"It can be a little bit like groundhog day on the road wherever else you are, but it's great to come back to your roots.

"I'm so looking forward to being back at the Mayflower and I'm expecting quite a big crowd of family and friends!

A long time amateur theatre stalwart in Southampton, he appeared in shows including West Side Story, South Pacific and Annie Get Your Gun with Southampton Musical Society and Heritage Theatre Company in the late 80s.

"I'll never forget doing a royal variety performance for the Prince of Wales at the Mayflower. I've still got the video somewhere!

"I remember being on stage with Gary Wilmot and Suzi Quattro and having spaghetti bolognaise in the Green Room with Hinge and Bracket!"

Kevin, now 48, was still an amateur when he founded the Big Little Theatre Company in Bournemouth in 1992 with close friend Earl Carpenter, now a West End and Broadway star best known for Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.

The company, and its later little sister Big Little Theatre School, have seen around 15 members become professional actors.

Working in insurance and as an estate agent in Bournemouth and London, Kevin finally decided to take up opera singing in his early 30s.

"I was 33 and I heard something on the radio which just changed my life. It was Andrea Bocelli and it was just fantastic. So I packed everything in and off I went."

Drama school followed and that eventually led to a new life in musical theatre in shows like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which starred Michael Praed and Noel Sullivan and visited Southampton last November, before a call to audition for the role of Old Deuteronomy in Cats.

"I was so surprised I got into Cats because Cats is a dance show and I'm certainly not a dancer! But I play the old guy - he stays on stage during the interval and entertains everyone!

"I was so thrilled to get the job. It's one of the big ones and it's a big feather in my cap. So Cats was a definite yes and it hasn't changed much. It's very much the classic show with a few modernisations, like Rum Tum Tugger rapping rather than being a rock cat! It's pretty much the same costumes and music, the 80s synth other worldly sound, but it's really appealing to a new generation. People love to go back and relive it with their kids!"

The Cats costume of leotard, beard, wig and full feline make up has caused quite stir for Kevin on occasion.

"Old Deuteronomy makes his entrance from the front of house which is fine, except that's not possible at some theatres. At Ipswich I had to go down the main road and through a car park to get to the front of the theatre. I got quite a few beeps from passing traffic!"

After his home run, Kevin will be back on the road with Cats until November. After that, the show will be going international with dates in the diary in the Middle East, Scandinavia, other part of Europe and even India.

Cats runs in Southampton from Tuesday to Saturday August 20.

Tickets: 023 8071 1811 or visit