A concert production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies will be held in aid of Starlight Children's Foundation and Kingston Hospital Cancer Unit Appeal at the London Palladium on Sunday 4 February 2007.

The starry line-up for the event includes (subject to availability) Josephine Barstow, Bonaventura Bottone, Adam-Jon Fiorentino, Maria Friedman, Laura Michelle Kelly, Trevor McDonald, Liliane Montevicchi, Charlotte Page, Michael Praed, Philip Quast, Angela Rippon, Liz Robertson, Imelda Staunton Summer Strallen and Ian Talbot.

Follies has music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. Set in a crumbling old Broadway theatre scheduled for demolition, two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Ben and Phyllis Rogers Stone, look back over their relationships during a reunion.

Follies premiered on 4 April 1971 at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, starring Alexis Smith, John McMartin, Dorothy Collins, Gene Nelson, and Yvonne De Carlo. It opened in London at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 21 July 1987, where it ran to 4 February 1988. The cast included Diana Rigg, Daniel Massey, Julia McKenzie, Lynda Baron, Leonard Sachs, Maria Charles, Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson.

The gala performance is presented by Richard Douglas Productions. Ticket prices range from £25 to £150, with the top-price tickets including access to the after-show party.

Ahead of Follies, the Notes from New York series of one-off shows featuring musical theatre stars continues with Christmas in New York at the West End’s Lyric Theatre on Sunday 10 December 2006. Josie Walker, Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer along with cast members from Wicked and Avenue Q.

The seasonal show celebrates the work of contemporary composers including Americans Alan Menken, Andrew Lippa, Craig Carnelia, David Friedman, Frank Wildhorn and Jason Robert Brown, and British composers Grant Olding and Charles Miller. David Randall directs.

Joining Atherton, Spicer and Walker in the cast are Cassidy Janson, James Gillan and Oliver Tompsett from Wicked, Jon Robyns and Clare Foster from Avenue Q, Sophia Ragavelas (currently playing Fantine in Les Miserables) and Melanie La Barrie (Daddy Cool).

And ahead of that, Liam Mower - who, along with James Lomas and George Maguire, originated the title role in Billy Elliot - will return to the hit musical for one night only on 22 November 2006, along with Sir Elton John, for a gala performance in aid of the Easington Branch of the children’s charity, The Place2Be. The gala also celebrates the show’s one millionth audience member.

Mower, who finished his run in the musical on 30 September 2006 (See News, 7 Sep 2006), will play the title role for the charity performance, which will be hosted by Billy Elliot’s composer, Elton John (pictured).

Since receiving its world premiere on 12 May 2005 (following previews from 31 March), Billy Elliot has been playing to full houses at the Victoria Palace where it has broken box office records. The musical is based on the 2000 film, which was nominated for three Oscars and 13 Bafta awards. Most of the film was shot in Easington Village where the terraced streets doubled as mining community at the time of the 1984 miners’ strike. The stage production reunites the creative team behind the film, including director Stephen Daldry, who is arranging a special performance for the gala.

Founded in 1994, The Place2Be gives children in primary schools a place where they can express their feelings through talking, creative work and play. The Place2Be delivers a range of services directly to children, parents and teachers in primary schools, from ex-mining communities. In addition they offer training for volunteers, staff and adults working with children. The Place2Be provides emotional support and is accessible to all children in schools where it operates.

- by Caroline Ansdell