Lipman’s husband, the playwright Jack Rosenthal, is fighting a bone marrow disease, and the actress has said that she needs more time to help care for him. Rosenthal, whose plays include The Barmitzvah Boy (also turned into a musical with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Don Black) and Spend, Spend, Spend, and whose screen work includes the movie “Yentl,” is working on his autobiography. He’s also reportedly working on a new screenplay. Meanwhile, Lipman’s role as the wicked Mrs. Meers has been taken by Anita Dobson. Something of a TV soap-opera legend in the UK — thanks to her role as feisty Angie Watts in “EastEnders” — Dobson has been a prolific stage actress for years. Her theatre work has included Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and, for the National Theatre, Bryon Lavery’s play Frozen in 2002.
Millie may have lost Lipman, but it has regained leading lady Amanda Holden. Having been away from the show on and off since she went on a week’s holiday in mid-February (shortly afterwards she suffered from a kidney infection), she is apparently fit and well and hot-footing it once more at the Shaftesbury Theatre.