Following last week’s announcement of a 15-week extension for Michael Frayn’s Olivier Award-winning comedy Donkeys' Years (See News, 7 Aug 2006), several cast changes have also been confirmed for Jeremy Sams’ highly acclaimed revival at the West End’s Comedy Theatre.

From 4 September 2006, Karl Theobald (pictured) will take over from Mark Addy as Snell, Hamish Clark will take over from James Dreyfus as Quine and Paul Raffield will take over from Michael Fitzgerald as Sainsbury. From 25 September, Olivier Award winner Janie Dee will succeed Samantha Bond as Lady Driver.

Theobald is best known as Dr Martin Dear from TV’s Green Wing. His other screen credits include The Virgin Queen and The Truth. Clark is also a familiar TV face, having starred as Duncan in seven series of Monarch of the Glen and Roger in three series of My Wonderful Life. Raffield’s recent stage credits include The Norman Conquests, The Madness of George III and the David Hare trilogy at Birmingham Rep, in addition to seasons at the Open Air Theatre.

Janie Dee’s play credits include Between the Lines, Design for Living, Betrayal, Much Ado About Nothing and, in 2000, Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential, for which she won Best Actress accolades at the Laurence Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards before the comedy’s New York transfer. She’s also well known for her musical credits, which include Cats, Carousel (for which she won her first Olivier), My One and Only, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and, earlier this year in the West End with David Soul, Mack and Mabel.

Twenty-five years after graduation, six former students return to their university college for a reunion dinner. Locked in college for the night, the graduates begin to relive their youth, with all its chaotic friendships and feuds.

David Haig will continue in his “career-defining” (according to Theatregoer columnist and Guardian critic Michael Billington) performance as trouser-dropping MP Headingly. Michael Simkins (Buckle), Jonathan Coy (Tate), Edward Petherbridge (Sydney Birkett) and Chris Moran (Bill Taylor) will also remain with the production.

Donkeys' Years opened at the Comedy Theatre on 9 May 2006 (previews from 27 April), 30 years after the play was first seen in the West End (See News, 22 Mar 2006). It had originally been booking only until 29 July but, following rave reviews, has become one of the surprise hits of the summer. According to a press release released today: “The production has been largely playing to full houses and, despite the difficult summer that the West End has experienced, the play has been profitable every single week of its run. Donkeys' Years has recouped its capitalisation and discussions are underway for a Broadway production.”

The production is designed by Peter McKintosh with lighting by Howard Harrison. It’s presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulbart Productions, Michael Linnit, Lee Menzies, TEG Productions and Boyett Ostar Productions.

- by Terri Paddock