While TV viewers will have to wait a few more weeks to find out the Danny and Sandy winners of Grease Is the Word, one reality TV contestant is already confirmed for the upcoming West End revival of Grease (See News, 29 Mar 2007). How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? second runner-up Siobhan Dillon (pictured) will make her West End debut playing Patty Simcox, the squeaky-clean cheerleader and class president, when the production opens at the Piccadilly Theatre on 8 August 2007 (previews from 25 July).

Since Maria last year, Dillon has been writing and recording her debut album. She describes her new job as “absolutely a dream come true”. Show producer David Ian, for whom Dillon was a favourite on last year’s programme, said today: “I knew that Siobhan was something special when I first saw her for The Sound of Music, and I am very pleased that she will be joining the cast of Grease.”

Grease Is the Word, the ITV programme to find the actor and actress to play star-crossed lovers Danny and Sandy, immortalised in the 1979 film version by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, begins broadcasting concludes on 9 June 2007. In addition David Ian, the TV judging panel comprises pop star Sinitta, record producer and concert promoter David Gest and choreographer Brian Friedman.

While now most famous from the film, Grease began on stage, premiering on Broadway in 1972. The musical originally ran for six years in the West End, first at the Dominion and then at the Cambridge Theatre, returning to London for a short run back at the Dominion in 2001 and at the Victoria Palace in 2002/3. In between, it has toured the UK extensively.

Grease has book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It’s now-famous songs include “Summer Nights”, “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”, “We Go Together”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, “Beauty School Dropout”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “Greased Lightnin’” and “Grease Is the Word”.

In other musical casting news, Ian Bartholomew (Tommy, Into the Woods, RSC’s The Merchant of Venice, TV’s Spooks), Michael Jibson (Our House, Brighton Rock), Sam Kenyon (Sweeney Todd, Amadeus) and Elliot Levey (Beauty and the Beast) will join Whatsonstage.com Award winner Sally Ann Triplett in the world premiere of Take Flight, the new musical by the American team of Richard Maltby Jr and David Shire, which runs at Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory from 25 July (previews from 13 July) to 22 September (See News, 14 May 2007).

Take Flight tells the inspirational stories of the pioneers of flight – the Wright Brothers (Kenyon and Levy), Charles Lindbergh (Jibson) and Amelia Earhart (Triplett). Bartholomew plays Earhart’s husband, explore Charles Putnam.

The new musical has a score by Shire and lyrics by Maltby with a book by frequent Sondheim collaborator John Weidman (Assassins, Pacific Overtures, Bounce). The premiere production reunites the creative team – director Sam Buntrock, designer David Farley and musical director Caroline Humphris - behind the venue’s five-time Olivier Award-winning, now Broadway-bound revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.

- by Terri Paddock