Four West End musicals - two long-runners and two recent arrivals - have announced extensions to their booking periods this week.

Just opened on 7 November 2003 (previews 15 October) at the Victoria Palace, Tonight's the Night, the new musical fashioned around the greatest hits of British rocker Rod Stewart, has added four months to its booking period, taking it up to 5 June 2004 (See News, 25 Jul 2003).

Tim Howar, Hannah Waddingham, Dianne Pilkington and Michael McKell lead the 36-strong cast of the Faustian tale, written and directed by comedian-turned novelist-turned dramatist Ben Elton, who's previously had compilation musical success with Queen's Whatsonstage.com Award-winning We Will Rock You.

In Tonight's the Night shy Stu (Howar) is desperate to be more like his idol Rod Stewart so he can get girl of his dreams Mary (Pilkington). One lonely night, he makes a deal with Satan (Waddingham) that secures him the soul of rocker Rod in exchange for an afterlife eternity in hell.

One of the UK's biggest rock stars in the late 1960s and 1970s, Rod Stewart's many hits over the years have included "Maggie May", "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", "You Wear It Well", "Hot Legs", "The Killing of Georgie", "First Cut Is the Deepest", "You're in My Heart", "Sailing" and the show's title song, "Tonight's the Night".


At the Strand Theatre, The Rat Pack - Live from Live Vegas - the concert-style tribute show starring look- and sound-alikes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr - has extended its bookings by a further eight months to 25 September 2004. From next week, 27 November 2003 to 10 January 2004, the production will be given a special seasonal twist, with Christmas favourites interspersed with the other cool 1960s classics by the group (See News, 23 Oct 2003).

Previously at the West End's Haymarket Theatre for an extended season, The Rat Pack opened at the Strand on 26 June 2003, since when it's gone on to break all of the theatre's box office records. Prior to its initial West End transfer, The Rat Pack had been touring the country since 2000, previously visiting London for one-off dates at the London Palladium and a limited run at Sadler's Wells.


Meanwhile, the West End's two longest still-running musicals - Boublil and Schonberg's Les Miserables and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, now in their 19th and 18th years - have both added four weeks to their booking periods at, respectively, the Palace and Her Majesty's theatres. They are now taking bookings up to 27 March 2004.

After this new booking period, Les Miserables is expected to move to a new West End home, most likely the Queen's Theatre, further down Shaftesbury Avenue (See The Goss, 17 Nov 2003).

- by Terri Paddock