Two of London’s most recent, big-budget musical arrivals – English National Opera’s epic revival of Broadway classic, On the Town, and the world premiere of Victoria Wood’s £2 million debut musical, Acorn Antiques - have both added new dates to their booking periods.

At the London Coliseum, ENO have added three extra performances to the limited run of On the Town. Jude Kelly’s revival of Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 musical – following the fast-paced adventure of three American sailors during one day’s wartime shore leave in New York - opened on 10 March 2005 (preview 5 March) and was due to continue, for 17 performances only, until 24 May. It has now added three extra performances, one on 27 May and two on 28 May.

Prior to its opening, some commentators questioned whether it was appropriate for a subsidised opera house to present a commercial musical production. The 55-strong cast - led by musical stalwarts including Adam Garcia, Whatsonstage.com Award winner Caroline O'Connor, Timothy Howar, Aaron Lazar and Helen Anker – is accompanied by a 48-piece orchestra.

According to ENO’s artistic director and chief executive Sean Doran, the musical experiment has been a “tremendous success”. He said: “Audiences have loved it and it shows that there is an appetite for well produced musical classics on this scale. ENO is extremely proud to be able to extend the run so that as many people as possible can enjoy this production, the first in 40 years.”


Meanwhile, at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, Acorn Antiques has added another four weeks to its booking period, taking it up 21 May 2005. Prior to its opening on 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 Victoria 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 Sally Ann Triplett.

- by Terri Paddock