Avenue Q will hold a special midnight matinee on Monday 23 October 2006. Proceeds from the extra, late night performance – for which all performers, technicians, musicians and royalty holders and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres have agreed to waive their fees – will go to HIV and AIDS charity, Theatrecares.

Avenue Q features a cast of just seven humans, three of them playing humans, the rest manipulating multiple puppets that include a closet gay puppet called Rod, a porn-addicted puppet called Trekkie Monster, and a puppet looking for love called Kate Monster (See News, 17 Feb 2006).

Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comedy received its UK premiere at the Noel Coward Theatre on 28 June 2006 (previews from 1 June). The production is directed by Jason Moore, with puppets designed by Rick Lyon. The UK cast are Giles Terera, Julie Atherton, Jon Robyns, Simon Lipkin, Clare Foster, Sion Lloyd and Ann Harada, reprising her New York turn as Christmas Eve.

As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations (See News, 29 Mar 2006), the National Youth Theatre (NYT) will hold a gala fundraising dinner at Battersea Evolution (formerly Battersea Park Events Arena) on Sunday 12 November 2006, featuring Little Britain’s David Walliams and Matt Lucas (pictured together), who this week bring the sell-out stage version of their hit TV sketch show to the Hammersmith Apollo.

The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain was founded in 1956 by Michael Croft, the company's director until his death in 1986. The company initially played in the East End of London but proved so successful that young people began applying to join it from all over the country. In 1960 the Youth Theatre was given national status and financial support by the Department for Education. Since its foundation, NYT has performed over 270 productions in over 50 cities in eight countries and involved over 120,000 young people (aged between 13 and 21) in the UK. During this anniversary year, it has been working with 24,000 young people across its range of activities and giving over 200 performances of 64 productions in 82 venues.

The gala dinner marks the culmination of the anniversary year. Highlights of the evening include a 30-minute special performance by Walliams and Lucas, who met in 1990 while performing with NYT and who subsequently set up the National Youth Theatre Cabaret. Lucas commented: “There wouldn’t be a Little Britain without National Youth Theatre. We’re delighted to be supporting the 50th anniversary year with a special performance at the Gala Fundraising Dinner.”

In addition to the entertainment, the gala comprises a champagne reception and three-course dinner, followed by dancing and a fundraising raffle and auction. Tickets for the black-tie event cost £150. To book, call 0207 281 3863.

- by Terri Paddock