The new Boney M musical Daddy Cool has cancelled its first six previews and will now start performances at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre from 2 May 2006. The premiere production was originally due to start previews on 26 April ahead of 16 May opening night, which will go ahead as planned.

EastEnders Michelle Collins, pop star Javine and So Solid Crew’s Harvey star in the new musical which fashions the hits of Seventies disco group Boney M around a contemporary London story loosely based on Romeo and Juliet (See News, 19 Jan 2006). Caught up in local rivalry between east and west London crews, music lover Sunny meets and falls in love with Rose, the daughter of the East End’s notorious club owner, Ma Baker. The lovers’ relationship fuels the hostility between the two gangs.

Daddy Cool has a book by Amani Naphtali. It’s directed by Andy Goldberg and designed by Jon Morrell with choreography by Sean Cheesman, lighting by David Hersey, sound by Nick Lister for Autograph, musical supervision by Mike Dixon and orchestrations by Steve Sidwell. Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha acts as creative associate. The musical is produced by Robert Mackintosh and Frank Farian, whose other artists including Milli Vanilli and No Mercy will also have songs featured in the show.

Meanwhile, at the Lyceum Theatre, Disney's multi award-winning Broadway hit The Lion King has added another five months to its schedule. It's now taking public bookings up to 25 March 2007.

Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the musical opened first on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production, with choreography by Garth Fagan, costumes by Taymor, puppetry and masks by Taymor and Michael Curry and set design by Richard Hudson.

The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film. Unlike the screen version, however, African sounds and rhythms are fused on stage with Western popular music to create the musical's distinctive sound. The stage score comprises three new songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.

- by Caroline Ansdell