Movin' Out, featuring pop classics by Billy Joel, will star Fame Academy’s James Fox in the leading role of Piano Man, a part he played in the show’s North American tour. The hit Broadway dance musical receives its European premiere at the West End’s Apollo Victoria, where it will have a limited run from 18 April to 17 July 2006 (previews from 28 March), ahead of a continental tour (See News, 7 Dec 2005).

After gaining the public’s attention in the BBC talent contest Fame Academy in 2004, Fox went on to represent the UK in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest where he sang the song “Hold on to Our Love”. He then played Judas in the 2004/5 UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, where he was seen by the Movin' Out producers.

The Movin' Out story is told without dialogue, combining choreography by double Emmy Award winner Twyla Tharp, with 24 songs written by five-time Grammy Award winner Billy Joel, including classics such as “Uptown Girl”, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, “She’s Got a Way” and title track “Movin’ Out”.

The musical opened in Broadway in September 2002, running for more than 1,300 performances before closing in December 2005. It was nominated for ten 2003 Tony Awards and won two, for Joel's orchestrations and Tharp's choreography.

Movin' Out follows a group of high school friends from New York, as they dance their way through the Vietnam War, lost lives, lost loves and lost dreams. Set on Long Island in the 1960s, the king and queen of the prom, Brenda and Eddie, are finished, while forever sweethearts James and Judy are ready for marriage. War splits the friends apart, but finally they reunite to discover they have all found their way back home.

Currently at the Apollo Victoria, screen-to-stage disco musical Saturday Night Fever will, after numerous extensions, finish its run on 18 February 2006. It opened at the Apollo Victoria in July 2004 after extensive touring and its original West End run at the London Palladium, where it had its world premiere in May 1998, marking the 21st anniversary of the release of the 1977 hit film, starring John Travolta. Movin' Out is presented in the West End by IP Live plc.

Meanwhile, full casting has been confirmed for another song-and-dance spectacular inspired by another American music legend, the £5 million Sinatra at the London Palladium, which opens at the eponymous West End theatre on 8 March 2006, following previews from 17 February (See News, 26 Oct 2004).

Previously a hit in the US – where it was seen in an earlier version under the title Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way at New York’s Radio City Music Hall - the show combines never-before-seen recordings of Sinatra songs and giant screen projections from his many film and television appearances with a live orchestra and big dance numbers, which are being newly choreographed by Stephen Mear for the London production, directed by David Leveaux with musical direction by Gareth Valentine.

The cast of 20 will feature Stephane Anelli (who previously starred as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever), Jo Cavanagh, Alistair David, Darren Fawthorp, Zoe Gappy, Helen Harper, Victoria Hinde, Stori James, Ebony Molina, Jo Morris, James O’Connell, Pippa Raine, Richard Roe, Simone Sault, Gido Schimanski, Craig Scott, Lorraine Stewart, Todd Talbot, Tristan Temple and Emma Woods.

Sinatra’s first-ever performances in Europe were a sell-out at the London Palladium in the summer of 1950. He came back to Britain many times, including a return to the Palladium in November 1975. His last appearance in the UK was at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1992.

The new stage show has the support of the Sinatra family, who have given the producers full access to their private archive material and home movies. Sinatra at the London Palladium is designed by Tom Pye, with multimedia design conceived by MODE Studios of Seattle. It’s presented by Running Subway, Act Productions, Nederlander International and Michael Gardner with Jack Utsick & Karl Sydow, in association with Sinatra Enterprises.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock