Fresh from his West End run as Che in Evita (See News, 28 Feb 2007), which finishes its run at the Adelphi Theatre this Saturday (26 May 2007), Matt Rawle (pictured) will join the cast of another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. He’ll star alongside Shona Lindsay and, as previously announced (See News, 8 Mar 2007), Seventies pop pin-up David Essex in Aspects of Love, which launches a three-month tour from Theatre Royal Newcastle on 4 September 2007 (previews from 31 August).

Aspects of Love is the story of a passionate love affair spanning 20 years and three generations. English student Alex Dillingham (Rawle), travelling through France before his call up, falls in love with alluring actress Rose Vibert (Lindsay). Their relationship, however, is changed forever by the sudden arrival of Alex’s Uncle George (Essex). The score includes “Love Changes Everything”.

In addition to Evita, Rawle’s musical credits include Miss Saigon, Assassins, Les Miserables and Camelot. Lindsay was most recently in the West End in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers last year and has also been seen in The Phantom of the Opera, Grease, Jekyll and Hyde, Singin’ in the Rain and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. The Aspects of Love cast will also feature Poppy Tierney (Mary Poppins, Les Miserables) as flamboyant Italian sculptress Guilietta Trapani.

Aspects of Love, which has music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart, originally opened in the West End in 1989 and ran for three years at the Prince of Wales. The new revival is directed by Nikolai Foster and designed by Rob Jones.

Following its run in Newcastle, the tour continues to Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Bradford, Stoke on Trent, Manchester, Glasgow, Wolverhampton, Plymouth, Norwich and Bath, where it concludes on 8 December 2007. The tour is produced by Kenny Wax and Michael Harrison, in association with PW productions.

Back in the West End, two more veterans of Michael Grandage’s revival of Evita - Robyn North and Leila Benn Harris – are now sharing the starring role of ingénue singer Christine in Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It is the first time the role has been shared, with each actress taking four performances per week ahead of the London production’s 21st birthday on 9 October 2007.

North has already been an alternate Christine and starred in the national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie while Leila has played Carmen in Fame the Musical in the West End. The Phantom of the Opera is based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel about a masked man who falls in love with the ingénue at the Paris Opera House.

And finally, at the West End’s Victoria Palace, 13-year-olds Corey Snide and Oliver Taylor have joined the rotating team of boys who take the title in the multi award-winning screen-to-stage hit Billy Elliot the Musical. Snide, who was born in New York, debuted on the Victoria Palace stage last week (Wednesday 16 May); Devon-born Taylor, who is a mid-associate of the Royal Ballet, will appear later this year.

Set against the North-eastern mining strikes of the 1980s, the musical recounts the tale of a motherless boy whose father wants him to learn to box but who instead discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.

The other current Billys are: Leon Cooke, Dean McCarthy, Layton Williams and Travis Yates. The cast also features: James Gaddas (Dad), Ann Emery (Grandma), Chris Lennon (Tony) and Alex Delamere (Mr Braithwaite). Jackie Clune replaces Sally Dexter as dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson from 4 June (See News, 13 Apr 2007).

Billy Elliot has played to more than one million people since it opened in May 2005 and recently celebrated its second birthday with candles and cake (See Photos, 16 May 2007}). The stage production reunites the creative team behind the 2000 film: director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling. It features an original score by pop singer-songwriter Elton John, with lyrics by Lee Hall.

- by Malcolm Rock & Terri Paddock