Dave Willetts joins the cast of the West End's longest-running musical tonight, 30 April 2001. He takes over the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats just days before the show celebrates its remarkable 20th birthday at the West End's New London Theatre on 11 May 2001.

Willetts is a musicals veteran, notable for becoming the first person in the world to play the leading roles in both Les Miserables (as Jean Valjean) and Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (the Phantom). He has also recorded three solo albums.

He's joined by cast newcomers Jacob Brent (as Mistoffelees), Jason Gardiner (Victor), John Partridge (Rum Tum Tigger), Paul Channon, Adrian Edmeades, Jye Frasca, Helen Harper, Sarah Jane Honeywell, Kenny Linden and Oliver Tydman. The company will continue to feature David Ashley, Julie Barnes, Julie Charlton, Candice Evans, Ross Finnie, Chrissie Hammond, Emma Kerslake, Barbara King, Rebecca Lock, Sebastian Rose, Gareth Snook, Kerry Washington, Lindsay Wise and Marilyn Wulff.

Cats opened at the New London Theatre on 11 May 1981, with a cast including Elaine Paige, Brian Blessed, Paul Nicholas, Wayne Sleep, Sarah Brightman and Bonnie Langford. In 1996, it became the longest-running musical ever to play either in the West End or on Broadway. To date, the London production has taken over £125 million at over 8,500 performances and has been seen by eight million people. Worldwide, Cats has taken over £1 billion. It can currently be seen in countries including Japan, Germany and Hungary, with a forthcoming US tour planned.

Featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by TS Eliot (drawing loosely from Eliot's poems in "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"), Cats is directed by Trevor Nunn with associate direction and choreography by Gillian Lynne, design by John Napier and lighting by David Hersey. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company.

As part of the 20th birthday celebrations, a display of memorabilia from international productions, from Ayers Rock to Aberdeen, has been mounted in the foyer of the New London Theatre.

- by Terri Paddock