June seems to be the month for Gala performances with a spate of them starting from tomorrow night:

WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE 2004, Rod Stewart's current squeeze, Penny Lancaster, will make a one-off appearance for charity as one of the Hot Legs girls in the hit Rod Stewart Musical - Tonight's the Night, at the West End’s Victoria Palace Theatre. The VIP charity performance is in aid of the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).

Tim Howar, Hannah Waddingham, Dianne Pilkington and Michael McKell lead the 36-strong cast of Tonight's the Night, a Faustian tale in which shy Stu makes a deal with the devil to be more like his idol Rod Stewart so that he can get girl of his dreams Mary.


WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE 2004, the Donmar Warehouse hosts a gala of Henry IV with Giorgio Armani’s design house, which provided the contemporary wardrobe for the production. The performance is followed by a party at the Elms Lester Paint Rooms with a menu by Giorgio Locatelli in collaboration with Urban Kitchen.

This new version of Pirandello's Henry IV by Tom Stoppard stars Francesca Annis and former Almeida artistic director Ian McDiarmid (See News, 18 Mar 2004). The London season - which is now sold out - closes on 26 June 2004 ahead of a tour (for full details see listings). To book gala tickets, which start at £125, call 020 7845 5815. All proceeds will go to the Donmar.


SUNDAY 20 JUNE 2004, impresario Cameron Mackintosh will host a gala performance of The Time of My Life, a celebration of the words and music of Julian Slade at the Bristol Old Vic. This is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Slade’s musical Salad Days, which was Mackintosh’s early inspiration for a career producing theatre.

Amongst the West End stars due to appear as part of the Bristol event are Anthony Andrews, Christopher Biggins, Rosie Ashe, Anna-Jane Casey, Alex Jennings, Simon Green, Gavin Lee, Joanna Riding and Laura Michelle Kelly.

Best known for Salad Days, Slade was the resident music director at the Bristol Old Vic from 1952 to 1954. The Time of My Life will be directed by James Powell and Simon Green, with musical staging by Gavin Lee and Matthew Bourne.

A limited 250 seats are available to the public, priced at either £50 or £75, including a buffet dinner. Tickets can be purchased by calling 0117 987 7877. All proceeds will be in aid of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.


ALSO on SUNDAY 20 JUNE 2004, London-based children’s theatre Chicken Shed will celebrate its 30th birthday with a star-studded event at the West End’s New London Theatre. Bob Hoskins, Michelle Collins and Richard O'Brien, amongst others, will join the 120-plus cast of Chicken Shed performers for a 90-minute cabaret, which will be followed by a private after-show party.

Set up in the 1970s by Mary Ward and Jo Collins, Chicken Shed Theatre Company remains a flagship company. Each week, 1,000 young people enjoy the Chicken Shed experience at the theatre’s north London, which has the facilities to present performances throughout the year to audiences exceeding 50,000.

Chicken Shed gala tickets are priced at £50 or £200, including entry to the private after-show party. To book, contact Jonny Morton at Chicken Shed on 020 8351 6161 ext 227.


SUNDAY 27 JUNE 2004 north London’s Tricycle Theatre's hosts a benefit for Corin and Vanessa Redgrave's Guantanamo Human Rights Commission, in the form of a gala performance of Manifest Destiny. This will be the first full-length performance of the opera which examines the human stories at the heart of the 'war on terror'.

Manifest Destiny is composed by Keith Bustein and directed by Gari Jones. The cast includes Bernadette Lord, Alexander Anderson-Hal, James McOran-Campbell and Peter Willcock. Tickets for the performance are priced at £18 (£3 plus a £15 donation) and are available from the Tricycle box office on 0207 328 1000.

- by Hannah Kennedy