Long-running West End musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago have both announced major cast changes today.

At The Phantom of the Opera, now in 16th year at Her Majesty's Theatre, Celia Graham (West Side Story, Les Miserables) and Robert Finlayson (Miss Saigon, Fame, Phantom tour) will take over from 11 March 2002 as Christine and Raoul. Other new members of the company will join at the same time, including Liz Robertson (Madame Giry), Nan Christie (as Carlotta), Robert Irons (Monsieur Andre) and Hayley Driscoll (Meg). John Owen-Jones continues in the title role.

The Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty's Theatre on 9 October 1986 and recently extended its booking period to 21 December 2002. In 1999, the musical, based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel about a masked man who falls in love with an ingénue singer at the Pairs Opera House, was named as the 20th century's most successful money-making show, dwarfing even Hollywood rivals like Titanic at the box office. Phantom also made its original leads - Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford into international stars.

In Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre, prior to the return of Denise Van Outen as Roxie Hart on 29 April, the role will be played by Anita Louise Combe. In other roles, Anna Jane Casey will return as Velma Kelly from 18 March to 1 June, during which time Sue Kelvin will return as Mama Morton. Claire Sweeney, Leigh Zimmerman and Alison Moyet - who currently play those respective roles - leave the production on 16 March at the end of their contracts. Neil McCaul (as Billy Flynn) and Clive Rowe (Amos Hart) remain.

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. The musical opened at the Adelphi in November 1997 and went on to win the 1998 Olivier for Outstanding Musical Production and the 1998 Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

- by Terri Paddock