Broadway legend Barbara Cook (pictured) will return to the London stage this winter to celebrate her 80th birthday. The one-off charity concert, Barbara Cook and Friends, will be held at the London Coliseum on Sunday 2 December 2007 as a benefit event for World AIDS Day.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1927, Cook was Broadway's favourite ingenue in the 1950s and 60s, originating important roles in musical theatre such as Cunegonde in Bernstein's Candide, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man (for which she won a Tony), and Amalia in She Loves Me.

In 1997, she celebrated her 70th birthday with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. In the West End, she’s had limited cabaret seasons at the Donmar Warehouse, the Albery, the Gielgud and, most recently, at the Haymarket three years ago (See News, 20 Jul 2004).

For Barbara Cook and Friends, the diva will be joined by a star-studded line-up which is due to include Elaine Paige, Philip Quast, Ruthie Henshall, Maureen Lipman, Nicholas Parsons, Sian Phillips, Anne Reid, Sally Ann Triplett and members of the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The concert is directed and choreographed by Bill Deamer, with musical direction by Gareth Valentine. It’s produced by Richard Morris and Doug Pinchin.

Ticket prices range from £18 to £150 and can be booked on 0870 145 2200.

Ahead of the Barbara Cook event, the lives and work of American composer and lyricist Jerry Herman and the late British comedic actor John Inman will be celebrated with gala evenings in the West End next month.

On Sunday 23 September 2007 at the Prince Edward Theatre, Award winner John Barrowman, now best known to TV fans from Torchwood and Any Dream Will Do, will host the Jerry Herman Gala. The evening will feature songs - such as “I Won’t Send Roses”, “I Am What I Am”, “The Best of Times”, “Tap Your Troubles Away” and “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Herman musicals including Hello Dolly, Mack and Mabel, Best of Times and La Cage Aux Folles - performed by West End and Broadway stars including Maria Friedman, Donald Pippin and Debbie Gravitte. Herman himself will also be appearing. Tickets are priced £15 to £40 and can be booked on 0870 850 9191.

On Sunday 30 September 2007 at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, the life of John Inman, who died on 8 March this year, will be celebrated by the Grand Order of Water Rats and the Entertainment Artists Benevolent Fund (of which Inman was Vice President). Amongst those stars due to take part in the tribute evening are: Trevor Bannister, Jess Conrad, Barry Cryer, Bobby Davro, Danny La Rue, Barbara Windsor and Norman Wisdom. Inman was best known for his TV role in Are You Being Served? as well as for his annual pantomime dame performances. Tickets are priced £20 to £50 and can be booked on 0870 890 1107.

- by Terri Paddock