West End Chicago & Umoja Book 2003 ExtensionsDate: 21 November 2002
Two West End musicals - South African song and dance extravaganza Umoja and Kander and Ebb's Chicago, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this week - have announced extensions to their booking periods, taking both up to late 2003.
Umoja just announced an eight-week extension last month and has now added a further nine months to its run at the New London theatre, where it's now taking bookings up to 20 December 2003. Its current success follows the show's rather shaky start in London. It first opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in November 2001 but then closed prematurely this past February, following noise complaints and the intervention of Camden Council. It was resurrected in June 2002 at the Queen's where it finished its limited season on 31 August, then transferred from 6 September to the New London, formerly home to Cats.
Created by Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni, Umoja incorporates the rhythms of tribal music, gumboot dancing, jazz, gospel and the contemporary sounds of Kwaito and Pantsula. South Africa's musical heritage is represented throughout the show by a company of versatile young singers, dancers, drummers and marimba players, many of whom come from severely disadvantaged township backgrounds.
Over at the Strand's Adelphi Theatre, the multi award-winning Broadway revival of Kander and Ebb's Chicago has added six months to its booking period, taking it up to 27 September 2003. The West End production opened on 18 November 1997 and celebrated its fifth anniversary this week with a new cast, which includes TV presenter Gaby Roslin as Mama Morton, EastEnders' Michael Greco as Billy Flynn, Linzi Hateley as Roxie and Tiffany Graves as Velma.
Chicago, based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Rick Clarke. Musical supervision is by Rob Fisher and musical direction by Gareth Valentine. The production is choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse and directed by Walter Bobbie.
- by Terri Paddock