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Extensions: Sheridan Smith's Elle, Boheme & Mis

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Sheridan Smith has extended her run as leading lady Elle Woods in the Broadway transfer of Legally Blonde at the West End’s Savoy Theatre. Originally contracted until 23 October 2010, Smith will now continue through to 9 January 2011. The production itself is currently booking through to 22 October 2011, having opened on 13 January 2010 (previews from 5 December).

The musical comedy, which premiered on Broadway in April 2007, is based on the 2001 Hollywood film in which Reese Witherspoon played California sorority girl Elle Woods who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back.

Commenting on her extension, Smith said: “I absolutely love playing Elle Woods, it’s been one of the highlights of my career so far, and I’m thrilled that the audiences love the show as much as I do. When Sonia (Friedman, producer) asked me to stay for a little bit longer, I couldn’t resist the thought of a pink, chihuahua-filled Christmas!”

Smith is joined by Richard Fleeshman as Warner and original cast members Alex Gaumond as her new love interest Emmett, Peter Davison as Callahan, Jill Halfpenny as Paulette.

Legally Blonde is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. The musical has music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, book by Heather Hach, set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller, sound design by ACME Sound Partners and orchestrations by Christopher Jahnke.

It’s produced in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Robert G Bartner, Ambassador Theatre Group, Bud Martin, Adam Zotovich, Jamie Hendry Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw and Act Productions.

At the Queen’s Theatre, the West End’s longest runner, Les Miserables, which celebrates its 25th birthday in October, has added eight months to its schedule and is now taking bookings through to 29 October 2011. Based on Victor Hugo's classic humanitarian novel about a persecuted man, Jean Valjean, in 19th-century revolutionary France, Les Miserables has a book by Alain Boublil, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. It’s directed by Trevor Nunn with John Caird and designed by John Napier.

The landmark Royal Shakespeare Company production had its first performance on 8 October 1985 at the Barbican Theatre before transferring, care of producer Cameron Mackintosh, to the West End’s Palace Theatre two months later. It ran at the Palace for 18 years and over 7,500 performances before moving down the road to the Queen’s on 3 April 2004. Globally, the musical has been seen by 56 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages.

Its 25th anniversary will be celebrated with two other productions of the musical in London – with the touring version “returning home” to the Barbican for a limited season from 14 September to 2 October, followed by a huge, star-studded concert presentation at The 02 Centre on Sunday 3 October.

In other musical extension news – okay, it’s not technically a musical, but it is extending – OperaUpClose’s record-breaking, English-language production of La Boheme has added six weeks to its sell-out season at Soho Theatre, where it finishes its current season on 4 September 2010 and is now booking for a second run in the new year from 11 January to 19 February 2011.

Robin Norton-Hale’s new translation, which relocates the action from 1830s Paris to modern London, was first seen in December 2009 at the 60-seat Cock Tavern in Kilburn, where it extended four times, eventually running for five months, breaking records as the longest continuously performed production of Puccini’s 1896 opera in history.

It transferred to the 140-seat Soho Theatre, the first opera ever staged at the Dean Street home for new writing, originally for five weeks only from 27 July to 4 September 2010. La Boheme is directed by Norton-Hale, with musical direction by Andrew Charity. OperaUpClose was formed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher to “bring opera to life for new audiences and to offer the extraordinary opportunity to experience the dramatic and musical event of opera up close”.


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