Stephanie J. Block, the star of Broadway's new musical The Pirate Queen, missed three performances due to illness in the days leading up to the show's April 5 opening night, a production spokesperson confirmed.
A press-heavy audience Wednesday evening April 4 saw Block swagger and belt as the nascent Irish chieftain Grace O'Malley at the top of the show, but midway through the act she took on a different visage: standby Kathy Voytko (of the recent Harold Prince Evita tour) had stepped in.
Given the cavernous size of the Hilton Theatre, some theatregoers missed the switch, observers said, but an announcement was made at intermission.
Block was also out sick April 3 and the matinee of April 4, a spokesperson confirmed, and it was not clear if she would be well enough to perform for the Thursday-night opening.
There was no reviewing press at the April 3 and matinee shows. Press in attendance on Wednesday night, April 4 will be invited back. The new musical by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Richard Maltby Jr., and John Dempsey tells the exploits of Grace O'Malley, a 16th-century Irish chieftain (1530-1603) who struggled against the encroaching English — and, in the musical, stares down Queen Elizabeth I.
The musical is produced by Riverdance producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan, who, you imagine, have suggested a remedy for powerhouse-singer Block: a pot of hot Irish tea.
Frank Galati directs the large-cast, windswept epic, which is told on Eugene Lee's sprawling set, the framework of which is an Irish sailing vessel called "The Pirate Queen."
Musical staging is by Graciela Daniele.
A month ago, in a message to her fans on her website, Block wrote, "I will not be able to visit at the stage door the way I used to. This is one of the things I love most about doing live theatre...getting the chance to meet those who support Broadway and love musicals. But this role is such that it takes every ounce of me to stay strong, healthy and deliver this story 8 times a week. So please understand if I cannot stay and chat long after the curtain comes down (especially during these cold winter months). I'm going to have to make a quicker exit during my Pirate Queen days. It is something I have to do to keep myself healthy."
For more information, visit www.thepiratequeen.com.