Slightly later than first planned (See The Goss, 1 Dec 2003 & 9 Oct 2002), Paul Emelion's hit fringe musical When Harry Met Barry is finally gearing up for a West End transfer. Although venue and dates have yet to be confirmed, it’s expected to open in early 2005, ahead of which it will have three special preview performances next month. These will be held at The Venue, Leicester Square on 11 November (at 2.30pm and 10.30pm) and 14 November 2004 (at 7.30pm).

A musical fantasy, When Harry Met Barry is set in the clubs and cabarets of Soho where incognito angel Betty Blue engineers romances for trendy clubber Spencer with TV chef Harry and then bookshop girl Alice with hunky lawyer Barry...but she didn't count on the rekindling of an old friendship when Harry and Barry bump into each other in the back of a taxi.

A finalist in the Vivian Ellis awards in 2000, When Harry Met Barry had a sell-out season at the fringe Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, north London in summer 2002.

The new production will be directed once again by Stuart Wood, with original cast member Nicola Dawn reprising her role as Alice. She’ll be joined in the five-strong cast by Stephen Ashfield (Taboo) as Harry, Jody Crosier (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Napoleon) as Barry and Peter Caulfield (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Our House) as Spencer. The part of Betty Blue has yet to be cast. Karen Bruce will choreograph.

After its run at the Gatehouse, the rights to When Harry Met Barry were picked up by West End producer Paul Elliott, who is no longer involved in the project. The new production – which has been expanded from 75 minutes to 90 minute in two acts - is being presented by Andrew Jenkins and Lee Menzies.

Jenkins told Whatsonstage.com that, as an intimate show, When Harry Met Barry will be seeking a small-scale West End venue of no more than 600 seats.

- by Terri Paddock