New Seekers' star Lyn Paul (pictured) returns to the role of Mrs Johnstone - for one week only from tonight - in the West End production of Blood Brothers. Willy Russell's Liverpudlian musical, now in its fourteenth year in the West End, has just announced a new three-month extension to its booking period and is now taking bookings up to 21 December 2002.

Paul has previously played Mrs Johnstone - the poor mother who's forced to give up one of her twin sons at birth, with dire consequences later in life - to great acclaim in both the West End and on a UK-wide tour. Since leaving 1970s pop band The New Seekers, she has also had a successful solo career as a recording artist and cabaret singer.

After Paul's brief return to the Phoenix Theatre (where Blood Brothers has been playing since 1991), Linda Nolan, one of the famous family singing group The Nolans, will resume playing Mrs Johnstone. Paul and Nolan are amongst good company in assuming the role, which has also previously been played by Kiki Dee, Petula Clark, Siobhan McCarthy, Carole King and Helen Reddy.

Paul and Nolan are joined by new West End cast members Philip Stewart as the Narrator (which he's previously played on tour), Louisa Lydell as Mrs Lyons and Ruth Gibson as Linda. Also in the cast are Paul Crosby (Mickey), Mark Hutchinson (Eddie), Daniel Taylore (Sammy) and Stephen Pallister (Mr Lyons).

Though now considered one of the West End's most successful blockbusters, Blood Brothers had a shaky start. In its original incarnation at the Lyric Theatre in 1985, it failed to woo over critics and audiences. Three years later, in July 1988, it opened in this second incarnation at the Albery Theatre (later transferring to the Phoenix).

Blood Brothers became the first West End revival to be nominated for the Best Musical Revival Olivier Award within two years of winning the Original Best Musical production. The Broadway production received seven Tony nominations and ran for nearly three years. The show also toured across America, and has been seen all over the world, in addition to regular UK-wide tours.

The book, music and lyrics are by Willy Russell for which he received Olivier, Plays and Players, Ivor Novello and Drama Magazine Awards. Blood Brothers is directed by Bob Thomson and designed by Marty Flood, with lighting by Jon Swain and musical direction by Rod Edwards. It is produced by Bill Kenwright by arrangement with Bob Swash.

- Terri Paddock