Pinocchio, he of the unsightly lengthening nose, gets a makeover next month at west London s Lyric Hammersmith theatre. The brand new version of The Adventures of Pinocchio, dramatised by Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall, begins previews tonight before opening on 5 December 2000 for a Christmas season that continues until 13 January 2001. It is directed by Marcello Magni.

In Pinocchio s curious and comical world, he encounters a host of extraordinary characters – including an evil cat, a cunning fox, some squashed crickets and an extremely hungry shark – as he endeavours to turn himself from a wooden puppet into a flesh and bone boy.

The cast for the fairy tale includes Harry Gostelow, Paul Hunter, Linda Kerr Scott, Jan Knightly, Eric Mallett, Jules Melvin and Phuong Nguyen.

Though Lee Hall is now receiving international attention for his hand in stage director Stephen Daldry s debut film, Billy Elliot, he has been a big name in theatre for a while now, particularly over the past year. Pinocchio is Hall s fifth production in London in 2000. His black comedy Cooking with Elvis, starring comedian Frank Skinner, had a five-month run at the Whitehall; his version of Carlo Goldoni s A Servant to Two Masters was presented at the Young Vic; and his adaptations of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children and of his own acclaimed radio play, Spoonface Steinberg, received outings at the New Ambassadors. A Servant to Two Masters also returns to London next month – this time at the New Ambassadors – after an extensive regional tour.

Magni, also a notable actor and founder member of Theatre de Complicite, has worked with Hall before – performing in Mother Courage and helping to workshop Spoonface Steinberg. Pinocchio is designed by Rae Smith, with lighting by Paul Anderson, puppetry direction by Sue Buckmaster and music by Gerard McBurney.

The production is suitable for children aged seven and over and is part of The Catch, a special season of work for children and young people.