Cast changes are underway at several West End musicals including Beauty and the Beast, Rent and Whistle Down the Wind. New cast arrivals include West End veterans and two former stars of the long-running BBC television soap opera EastEnders.

This week, singer Michelle Gayle, formerly 'Hattie' on EastEnders, and John Barrowman, who has starred on stage in Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera and The Fix, take over the leads in Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the Dominion Theatre.

Nex month, the leads in Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest, Whistle Down the Wind, will also be replaced. From 3 May, 'The Man', the stranger on the run who local children mistake for Jesus Christ, will be played by Glenn Carter, who, fittingly, played the title role in the recent West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Carter's other stage credits include Chess, Cats, Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Grease. At the same time, Laura-Michelle Kelly, who has just turned 18, will take over as 'Swallow', the teenager who believes in the stranger. Previously, Kelly has played several performances as 'Belle' in Beauty and the Beast.

And in June, another former EastEnders regular, Desune Coleman, who played 'Lenny' in the soap opera, will join the cast of Rent. From 7 June, Coleman will play 'Benny', the landlord intent on collecting rent charges from squatters in New York, in the multi award-winning Broadway transfer. On stage, Coleman has appeared in the West End in Miss Saigon. His other television work includes Anna Lee.