Contact, which opened at the Queens Theatre on 23 October 2002 (previews from 3 October), has added three months taking it up to 31 May 2003. Devised by Stroman (who also choreographs and directs) and James Weidman, Contact presents three stories - titled "Swinging", "Did You Move?" and "Contact! - told through dance and dialogue as the characters struggle to connect with one another. The piece is inspired by a real-life event when Stroman witnessed a young woman in a short yellow dress bedazzle a succession of suitors at an after-hours Manhattan dance club.
The London production - which features Leigh Zimmerman, Michael Praed, Craig Urbani, Gavin Lee and Royal Ballet star Sarah Wildor - has been nominated for two Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards for Best Ensemble and Best Choreographer for Stroman. (Voting continues to 31 January 2003. Click here to vote.)
Meanwhile, longrunner The Phantom of the Opera - which opened at Her Majesty's Theatre in October 1986 and marked its 16th birthday this year - has extended its public booking by four months to 28 June 2003. Before that in the new, the show will alter its weekly performance schedule. From 6 January 2003, evening performances will start at 7.30pm (as opposed to 7.45pm), midweek matinees will be Tuesdays at 2.30pm (rather than Wednesdays at 3pm) and Saturday matinees will be brought a half-hour forward to 2.30pm.
In 1999, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel about a masked man who falls in love with an ingénue singer at the Pairs Opera House, was named as the 20th century's most successful money-making show, dwarfing even Hollywood rivals like Titanic at the box office. Phantom also made its original leads - Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford into international stars.
- by Terri Paddock