Several recent arrivals to the West End – two plays, the Whatsonstage.com Award-winning Festen and David Mamet revival A Life in the Theatre, and Victoria Wood’s debut musical Acorn Antiques - have announced extensions to their booking periods this week.

A Life in the Theatre, which opened at the Apollo Theatre on 2 February 2005 (previews from 27 January), has added one week to its limited season and is now booking up to 30 April 2005. In Lindsay Posner’s new production of Mamet’s 1977 two-hander Dawson's Creek TV heartthrob Joshua Jackson makes his professional stage debut playing opposite veteran Patrick Stewart in the comedy about two actors at different ends of their careers (See News, 22 Oct 2004).


The multi award-winning Almeida production of Festen, which opened at the West End’s Lyric Theatre on 23 September 2004 (previews from 15 September), has also added week to its extended season there, now booking up to 16 April 2005 ahead of a planned Broadway transfer (See News, 17 Jan 2005). Paul Nicholls now stars as Christian, who drops a bombshell on his well-to-do family, gathered at their magnificent country estate to celebrate the 60th birthday of patriarch Helge.

Based on the 1997 Danish Dogme film, this new English-language stage version of Festen is adapted by David Eldridge, directed by Rufus Norris and designed by Ian MacNeil, with costumes by Joan Wadge, lighting by Jean Kalman, sound by Paul Arditti and music by Orlando Gough. It had its world premiere on 25 March 2004 (previews from 18 March) at north London’s Almeida Theatre. Amongst the production’s accolades to date are two Evening Standard Awards, a Critics’ Circle Award, several Olivier nominations and the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best New Play (See News, 8 Feb 2005).


At the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Victoria Wood’s £2 million debut musical Acorn Antiques has added six weeks to its booking period, taking it up 23 April 2005. Prior to its opening last Thursday 10 February 2005 (previews from 27 January), the musical made headlines, and records, for pushing West End ticket prices to their highest level ever - £65 for top seats at weekends, with the cheapest seats even mid-week at £25.

Based on the characters from Wood’s 1980s TV spoof sketches, the show within a show (within a show) follows Miss Babs’ struggle to keep the antiques shop open in the face of competition from multi-national chains, in particular The Guilty Bean coffee shop. The musical features stars from the TV original Julie Walters (who is replaced on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees by Wood herself), Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston, as well as Josie Lawrence, Neil Morrissey and Whatsonstage.com Award winner Sally Ann Triplett.

- by Terri Paddock