Four West End musicals – longrunners The Phantom of the Opera and Blood Brothers and summer arrivals Evita Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - have recently announced extensions to their booking periods.

On Haymarket, the West End's second longest-running musical, The Phantom of the Opera, has added 11 months to its schedule, taking it up to 15 December 2007 at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on 9 October, is based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel about a masked man who falls in love with an ingénue singer at the Paris Opera House. The current cast features Rachel Barrell, Oliver Thornton, and in the title role, Earl Carpenter (See News, 23 Aug 2004).

Across the street from The Phantom of the Opera, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has extended its booking period by two months. Following extensive regional touring, the production opened in the West End on 16 August 2006 (previews from 10 August) and had been booking to 25 November 2006 (See News, 13 Apr 2006). It will now continue into the new year, until 17 February 2007.

In Oregon circa 1850, Adam goes to town to get a wife. Having convinced Milly to marry him, he brings her back to his backwoods cabin, where she discovers he has six live-in younger brothers who are anxious to get wives of their own. The stage version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is based on the 1954 Oscar-winning MGM musical, which starred Howard Keel as Adam and Jane Powell as Milly, the parts taken on stage now by Dave Willetts and Shona Lindsay.

Meanwhile, another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, this time Michael Grandage's revival of Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1978 classic Evita, has added a further three months to its booking period at the Adelphi Theatre (See News, 30 Jan 2006). It opened on 21 June 2006 (previews from 2 June) and, following an earlier extension, was booking through to 3 February 2007. It is now taking bookings to 28 April 2007. Based on the life and times of Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, the musical stars Argentine actress Elena Roger* in the title role alongside Philip Quast as Juan Peron and Matt Rawle as narrator Che Guevara. (*Abbie Osmon performs the role of Eva on Monday evenings and Thursday matinees. From 25 to 30 September 2006, while Elena Roger is on holiday, Osmon will lead the week’s six other performances with Jodi Jacobs performing the Monday evening and Thursday matinee.)

Finally, Blood Brothers, Willy Russell’s tale of twins separated about birth with tragic consequences, had extended its booking period by seven months to 1 September 2007. Bill Kenwright’s production first opened on 27 August 1988 at the Albery Theatre before transferring to its current home at the Phoenix Theatre in November 1991. Currently, Antony Costa and Mark Hutchinson play twins Eddie and Mickey along with Maureen Nolan (as Mrs Johnstone), Philip Stewart (Narrator), Vivienne Carlyle (Mrs Lyons) and Sophia Thierens (Linda).

- by Caroline Ansdell