Two recent West End hits – screen-to-stage comedy When Harry Met Sally and award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie - launch major UK-wide tours over the coming months, both thanks to Churchill Theatre Bromley.

First up, in March, is Thoroughly Modern Millie. Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, the nostalgic musical comedy is set in 1920s New York where recent arrival-from-Kansas Millie Dillmount is determined to bob her hair, dance to jazz, get a job and marry her boss - all in the modern fashion. The stage musical features new songs by Dick Scanlan (lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music), with a book by Scanlan and Richard Morris.

On Broadway, where it premiered in April 2002, Thoroughly Modern Millie won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The London production, which starred TV’s Amanda Holden in the title role, ran at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre for eight months from October 2003 to June 2004. Anita Dobson, who took over from Maureen Lipman as Millie’s villainous landlady Mrs Meers, won this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Takeover in a Role (See News, 1 Feb 2005).

In the new UK tour, Holden’s understudy Donna Steele takes over as Millie with Lesley Joseph (Annie, Singular Women on stage, TV’s Birds of a Feather) as Mrs Meers (except for dates in Scotland, when comedienne Elaine C Smith plays the part). Also in the cast are Grace Kennedy (Muzzy), Andrew Kennedy (Trevor Graydon), Richard Reynard (Jimmy Smith) and Robyn North (Miss Dorothy).

The touring production is directed by Beth Eden, designed by David Gallo and produced by Paul Elliott, Duncan C Weldon and Pat Moylan in association with Churchill Theatre Bromley, where it opens on 8 March 2005, before continuing, until 12 November, to Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Stoke-on-Trent, Woking, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Plymouth, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton, Norwich, Wimbledon and Nottingham.

The following month, also at Churchill Theatre Bromley, When Harry Met Sally opens on 6 April 2005 before continuing, until 30 July, to Richmond, Salford, Bath, Westcliff, Bradford, Cambridge, Reading, Woking, Norwich, Glasgow, Brighton, Malvern, Canterbury and Newcastle.

In Rob Reiner's 1989 film, Harry and Sally, one-time college classmates, move to New York and, over many years, hate each other, become friends and, against their own better judgments, eventually fall in love. Playwright Marcy Kahan adapted the original Nora Ephron screenplay for the stage.

In the touring production, Johnny Wrather (from TV’s Coronation Street) and TV presenter Gaby Roslin (recently seen on stage in Chicago in the West End and Dinner on tour) will take the title roles played by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal on screen, and by, first, Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry and, second, Molly Ringwald and Michael Landes at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, where the stage play had its world premiere in February 2004 and ran for seven months. The touring production is directed by Simon Cox and features a soundtrack by British jazz musicians Jamie and Ben Cullum. It’s presented by West End producer James Tod and Churchill Theatre.

- by Terri Paddock