Late night cabarets at the Prince of Wales Theatre’s Delfont Room will be starting again this spring, with Avenue Q cast members kicking off the season with their unique celebration of Valentine’s Day, on 14 February 2007. The “Luurvefest” will feature the cast of the Broadway musical – and their puppets - serenading audience members with their most tender (and rude) love songs.

Billed as an adult version of Seasame Street, Avenue Q features a cast of seven – three of them playing humans, the rest manipulating multiple puppets that include a closet gay puppet called Rod, a porn-addicted puppet called Trekkie Monster, and a puppet looking for love called Kate Monster. The West End cast features Giles Terera, Julie Atherton, Jon Robyns, Simon Lipkin, Clare Foster, Naoko Mori and Sion Lloyd.

The Avenue Q cabaret will be followed on Wednesday 14 March 2007 by a showcase of West End talent, featuring Kelly Price (formally Guys and Dolls), Gina Beck (Les Miserables), Alice Fern (Les Miserables), Rebecca Trehearn (We Will Rock You), Paul Ayres (Wicked), Edward Baruwa (Porgy and Bess), Jon Robyns and Giles Terera (Avenue Q), who will perform work by UK composers including Craig Adams, Susannah Pearse, Laurence Wythe, Matt Brind, Ian Sapiro and Charles Miller.

The shows, which begin at 11pm, follow the successful format of previous cabaret nights at the Delfont Room, which were launched by double Olivier Award-winner Joanna Riding and Martin Crewes on 2 February 2005, and have since featured performances from Adam Garcia, Tim Howar, Aaron Lazar, Rosie Ashe and Simply Barbra (See News, 23 Dec 2004).

Doors open at 10.30pm. Seating is at candlelit tables on a first come first served basis for £20, or standing (nightclub style) for £10. Tickets are on sale now via the website.

Meanwhile, Elaine Stritch will no longer be appearing in the previously announced gala performance of Sondheim’s Follies at the London Palladium on Sunday 4 February 2007 (See News, 13 Dec 2006). Instead, the role of Carlotta will be played by Broadway and West End star Kim Criswell.

A spokesperson for the show said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret that Elaine Stritch will not be playing Carlotta in Follies, but we are delighted to announce that Kim Criswell will be stepping into the role.”

Criswell’s most recent stage credit was in another Sondheim musical, Into the Woods, in Derby last year, and before that she appeared in Sondheim’s Company at the Hackney Empire in 2005. She won the Helen Hayes Award for her performance in Side By Side By Sondheim. Criswell’s other credits include Call Me Madam, Lady Be Good and Annie Get Your Gun - for which she was nominated for an Olivier award.

Also in the cast are West End regulars Maria Friedman (who plays Sally), Philip Quast (Ben), Tim Flavin (who has replaced the previously announced Michael Praed as Buddy) and Liz Robertson (Phyllis). The concert is held in aid of Starlight Children's Foundation and Kingston Hospital Cancer Unit Appeal. It’s presented by Richard Douglas Productions and directed and choreographed by Bill Deamer, with musical direction by Richard Balcombe. Ticket prices range from £25 to £150, with the top-price tickets including access to the after-show party.

Follies has music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. Set in a crumbling old Broadway theatre scheduled for demolition, two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Ben and Phyllis Rogers Stone, look back over their relationships during a reunion.

- by Caroline Ansdell