Glenn Close has already missed four performances in Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum, after being signed off sick April 21. She was scheduled to skip tonight's April 25 performance, but the English National Opera tweeted at 10:30 AM ET that she would return to the role tonight after all.
UPDATE: Glenn Close WILL sing the role of Norma Desmond in tonight's performance of Sunset Boulevard. (Mon 25 April) #ENOSunset— EnglishNationalOpera (@E_N_O) April 25, 2016
In a press statement issued on her first day's absence, she was reported “as unwell and on doctor's advice will not be performing.” The role of Norma Desmond had been taken by her cover, Ria Jones, a veteran of West End musicals whose long association with the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber saw her become, at the age of 19, the youngest-ever performer to play the title role in Evita on tour, and has subsequently seen her appear as Grizabella in Cats in the West End and the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
When Close's first absence was announced April 21, some members of the audience reportedly booed and demanded refunds, which were not given. According to a press spokesperson, “There are no refunds or exchanges but patrons are being given email@example.com for enquires.”
One member of the audience that night was London press agent Kevin Wilson, who told the Daily Telegraph, “There were a lot of angry people before the show. When the guy came on stage to tell the audience Glenn Close would not be appearing, someone behind me shouted, 'give me my money back.' Ria must have been absolutely terrified backstage, but she was sensational. A class act, indeed and one I am so privileged to say I witnessed.”
Even Jones sympathized with the disappointed theatregoers. She told the Telegraph, “Of course, I'd have been disappointed if I'd turned up and found Glenn Close wasn't singing." But she received a standing ovation, and huge praise on social media. She spoke of the reaction, "I was gob smacked, just gob smacked. I'd never sung with the orchestra before. I've really just been watching her [Close] from the wings and learning that way.”