The West End’s two longest still-running musicals - Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera - have announced seven-month extensions to their current booking periods. Both Cameron Mackintosh productions are now taking bookings up to 29 October 2005.

Les Miserables celebrated its 19th birthday in the West End on 8 October 2004. Based on Victor Hugo's humanitarian novel about a persecuted man in 19th-century revolutionary France, the show has been seen worldwide by over 50 million people in more than 38 countries and in 21 languages. In London, it ran for 18 years and over 7,500 performances at the Palace Theatre before moving down the road to its new home at the Queen’s Theatre this past April (See News, 21 Nov 2003).

The current cast includes Sean Kingsley, Gary Tushaw, Joanna Ampil and Gemma Wardle (See News, 24 Jun 2004). Originally adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird for the RSC, Les Miserables has a book by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, with music by Schönberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The production is designed by John Napier and produced by Cameron Mackintosh.

At Her Majesty’s Theatre, the West End's second longest-running musical, The Phantom of the Opera, marked its 18th birthday on 9 October 2004. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel about a masked man who falls in love with an ingénue singer at the Paris Opera House. The current cast features Rachel Barrell, Oliver Thornton (See News, 23 Aug 2004), and in the title role, John Owen Jones.

- by Terri Paddock