Hit West End musicals Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Kiss Me Kate have both announced five-month extensions to their current booking periods, taking their seasons, at the London Palladium and Victoria Palace respectively, into March 2003.

Chitty, the world premiere of the stage musical adaptation of classic 1968 children's film, just opened last Tuesday, 16 April 2002 (previews from 19 March), to generally strong reviews. With production costs of £6.2 million, it is one of the most expensive musicals in West End history. It's already taken more than £8 million in advance sales, and has now extended its booking period by five-and-a-half months from 28 September 2002 up to 15 March 2003.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stars Michael Ball as Caractacus Potts, a widowed inventor who restores a magical car with the help of his two children and lady friend Truly Scrumptious, much to the chagrin of the evil Bombursts of Vulgaria. Also in the cast are Anton Rodgers, Brian Blessed, Nichola McAuliffe, Richard O'Brien, Edward Petherbridge and 18-year-old newcomer Emma Williams.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers, directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Andrew Bruce, orchestrations and dance arrangements by Chris Walker, and musical direction and supervision by Robert Scott. The book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming and originally published in hardback in three parts.

Meanwhile, at the Victoria Palace, the revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate has extended its booking period from 28 September 2002 up to 1 March 2003. A full British company (to be announced) will take over, replacing the four American leads - currently Brent Barrett, Marin Mazzie, Nancy Anderson and Michael Beresse - from 26 August.

The multi award-winning Broadway production, directed by Michael Blakemore, opened on 30 October 2001 (previews from 16 October) in London, where its accolades have included nine Laurence Olivier nominations, the Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Musical and the Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Musical Revival. Scenic design is by Robin Wagner, costume design by Martin Pakledinaz, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound by Tony Meola, orchestrations by Don Sebesky and dance arrangements by David Chase. The musical direction is by Paul Gemignani and choreography by Kathleen Marshall.

- by Terri Paddock