Cast changes in the late stages of a musical’s development often have to do with panicky firings and hirings, but in this case it appears that Rogers was upset that her role as Billy’s Grandma had been cut to reduce the show’s running time.
A statement released to the press said, “By mutual agreement Anne Rogers has left Stephen Dladry’s production of Billy Elliot. As rehearsals progressed the role of Grandma changed considerably leading to Ms. Rogers’ departure from the production.”
The actress’s agent told The Stage newspaper, “She’s very sad that it has happened. The show was running over and the cast were warned that cuts would have to be made. Anne felt that her part was already small and decided it was best to leave. It’s a shame because she was looking forward to returning to the West End stage.”
Rogers, a musical theatre veteran, was the original Polly Browne in The Boyfriend, and later she played Eliza Doolittle in the West End, Hollywood and Chicago. Her most recent West End run was as Jessie Matthews in the short-lived Over My Shoulder at the Wyndham’s Theatre.
No replacement for Rogers has yet been announced. The rest of the cast includes Haydn Gwynne, James Lomas, George Maguire, Liam Mower, Joe Caffrey, Steve Elias, Trevor Fox, Tim Healy, Stephanie Putson, Brooke Havana Bailey, Emma Hudson, Lucy Stephenson, Brad Kavanagh, Ashley Lloyd and Ryan Longbottom. The show is produced by Working Title (the company behind such films as “Love, Actually” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary”) and Old Vic Productions. Director Stephen Daldry, who directed the film, stays on board for the stage version.
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