This was a long-scheduled absence for Lithgow, who is one-half of the title team at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Norbert Leo Butz won the Best Actor (Musical) Tony Award for playing Lithgow's more vulgar partner in crime.
Tom Galantich will step in for Lithgow for the three missed shows.
The 36-minute New York City Ballet Carnival of the Animals, with music by Camille Saint-Saëns, has choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. The narration is written by Lithgow, drawing on his illustrated children's book of the same name (and the fanciful 1886 Saint-Saëns orchestral work that preceded it). Its premiere was May 14, 2003, when Lithgow also participated. (According to Lithgow's Playbill bio, he even danced the role of the Elephant.)
Lithgow's children's book, "Carnival of the Animals," with illustrations by Boris Kulikov, is explained this way by Publishers Weekly: "During a field trip to a natural history museum, Oliver Pendleton Percy the Third sneaks away from his class and hides among the taxidermic beasts in an exhibit labeled 'under repairs.' After closing, as Oliver sleeps with the fishes—and antelopes, bears and beavers—the boy dreams that the various people in his life take on the guise of the museum animals. His classmates morph into a pack of rule-breaking hyenas, his teacher a lion and his mother a tearful cuckoo searching for her chick. A kindly night watchman eventually facilitates Oliver's safe return home."
For more information, visit www.nycballet.com.