Chicago’s current Billy Flynn, Pop Idol contestant Darius Danesh (pictured), has extended his run in the hit musical, which has itself extended its booking period by two months to 22 April 2006 at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre (See News, 19 Oct 2005).

Danesh - who made his West End debut in the role of the slick city lawyer when he joined the current cast on 21 November 2005 - will stay on for an extra four weeks, until 11 February 2006.

Meanwhile, Vanessa Leigh Hicks, who was a member of the show’s original cast eight years ago and has been dance supervisor and first cover Velma Kelly since the show opened, left the company on Saturday (10 December), but will return to play Velma in her own right from 16 to 27 January 2006.

The show’s current Velma, Amra-Faye Wright, leaves the cast on 7 January 2006 to join the Broadway production, where she will start performances on 16 January. From 9 to 14 January 2006, Kay Murphy will play the role of Velma Kelly in the London production.

Whatsonstage.com Award winner Sally Ann Triplett continues in the role of Roxie Hart until 28 January 2006 (See News, 17 Aug 2005). No replacement has yet been announced.

The musical, about a wannabe jazz star turned murderess, is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. Choreography is by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse. Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Rick Clarke. Chicago is directed by Walter Bobbie, with musical supervision by Rob Fisher and musical direction by Corin Buckeridge.

The show won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production as well as the 1998 Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical. Currently playing in New York, on tour in America and South Africa, Chicago is produced in London by the Broadway producers Barry and Fran Weissler.

- by Caroline Ansdell