Several West End long-runners – musicals Grease and The Lion King and screen-to-stage comedy The 39 Steps - have announced extensions to their booking periods.

At the Piccadilly Theatre, Grease, which opened on 8 August 2007 (previews from 25 July), has added seven months to its booking period, taking it up to 10 January 2008. Grease Is the Word winners Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden made their West End debuts as high school sweethearts Danny and Sandy in the revival (See News, 11 Jun 2007).

Grease is directed by David Gilmore, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, and produced by Grease Is the Word judge David Ian and Paul Nicholas, by arrangement with Robert Stigwood. The current West End cast also features How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?’s Siobhan Dillon (as Patty Simcox), Sean Mulligan (Kenickie), Jayde Westaby (Rizzo) and Alana Phillips (Frenchy).

The 1972 Broadway musical was immortalised by the 1979 film version, in which John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John played Danny and Sandy. The musical originally ran for six years in the West End, first at the Dominion and then at the Cambridge Theatre, returning to London for a short run back at the Dominion in 2001 and at the Victoria Palace in 2002/3. In between, it has toured the UK extensively, produced since 1993 by Ian.

Grease has book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It’s now-famous songs include “Summer Nights”, “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”, “We Go Together”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, “Beauty School Dropout”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “Greased Lightnin’” and “Grease Is the Word”.


At the Lyceum Theatre, The Lion King has opened a new three-month booking period, taking it up to 28 September 2008. Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation 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. It opened at the Lyceum on 19 October 1999 (previews from 24 September).

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.


And finally, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps has added another four months to its schedule at the Criterion Theatre, where it’s now booking through to 11 October 2008. The play started life at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (in June 2005), then had its London premiere last year at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn before opening in the West End on 20 September 2006 (previews from 14 September). Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Buchan’s whodunit, memorably filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935, had its Broadway premiere last month.

In The 39 Steps, four actors play “150 roles” between them to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home. The current West End cast is Simon Paisley Day (as Hannay), Josefina Gabrielle, Martyn Ellis and Simon Gregor. Maria Aitken directs.

- by Terri Paddock