As previously tipped (See The Goss, 13 Jun 2003), Maureen Lipman will this autumn join Cutting It TV star Amanda Holden (pictured in costume), who makes her West End debut in the title role of Thoroughly Modern Millie. The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical has its London premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 21 October 2003, following previews from 11 October (See News, 5 Jun 2003). Booking has now opened.

Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Channing, the nostalgic musical comedy is set in 1920s New York where recent arrival-from-Kansas Millie Dillmount is determined to bob her hair, dance to jazz, get a job and marry her boss - all in the modern fashion.

Familiar to television viewers for, amongst other things, her long-running role as Beattie in British Telecom's adverts, Lipman's musical theatre credits include Oklahoma! at the National. Lipman plays Mrs Meers, the evil landlady who abducts young women and sells them into the white slave trade. Others so far confirmed for the cast are: Sheila Ferguson (as millionaire's widow Muzzy), Mark McGee (as smitten Jimmy Smith), Helen Baker (as delicate flower Miss Dorothy) and Craig Urbani (as boss Trevor Graydon).

Urbani was Olivier-nominated for his performance this year in Susan Stroman's Contact and is well known for his long stint playing the title in Buddy. McGee created the role of Marilyn in Boy George's Taboo and has also featured in West Side Story, Starlight Express, Whistle Down the Wind, Saturday Night Fever and Les Miserables. Ferguson's musical stage credits include Oh What a Night, Soul Train and Always, while Baker has recently been seen in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Cats.

In addition to period tunes and songs from the film, Thoroughly Modern Millie features new numbers by Dick Scanlan (lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music), with a book by Scanlan and Richard Morris. The musical opened in April 2002 at Broadway's Marquis Theatre, where it continues to play, and was the big winner at the 2002 Tony Awards, taking home six trophies including Best Musical. The London production reunites the original Broadway creative team, including director Michael Mayer and designer David Gallow.

Prior to the transfer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Shaftesbury Theatre will house the UK touring revival of Calamity Jane, starring Toyah Willcox. At the end of an extensive UK tour, the Wild West musical comedy opens on 26 June 2003 (previews 12 June) at the Shaftesbury, where it continues its limited season to 20 September.

- by Terri Paddock