Michael Ball to Fill in for Ailing Michael Crawford in London's The Woman in White

News   Michael Ball to Fill in for Ailing Michael Crawford in London's The Woman in White In a tale of two Michaels, Michael Crawford is to exit Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White temporarily, his place to be taken by Michael Ball. Crawford has, according to a press release, been unable to perform in the show recently because he has been fighting a flu virus. He is scheduled to return, after a recuperative break, on April 4 and stay until May 28.

Michael Ball
Michael Ball

Michael Ball will take over the role of the villainous Count Fosco beginning Feb. 22, though he may start earlier than that. Until then, a spokesperson for the show advises audiences to assume they will be seeing Crawford’s understudy, unless the star feels up to any performances. It has not been announced whether Crawford will lead the musical on Broadway.

West End producers credit Ball, alongside Crawford and Elaine Paige, as one of the few British musical-theatre stars whose name in a show usually guarantees good box office. His last musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, at the London Palladium is still going strong several casts later, and he found fame through the solid-gold hits Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera (in which he starred alongside Michael Crawford). Lloyd Webber’s Aspects Of Love made less money than those others, but did Ball’s profile the world of good when his single from the show, “Love Changes Everything,” became a U.K. chart success.

Ball has previously appeared with Woman in White co-star Maria Friedman when they headlined Stephen Sondheim’s Passion on Shaftesbury Avenue (one of the few Michael Ball shows that didn’t turn a profit). He has never before, however, played the bad guy in a West End show.

The Woman in White has been nominated for five Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. In a statement, Ball said, “I am delighted to have been offered this opportunity. Stepping into the great Michael Crawford’s shoes represents an enormous challenge and I am thrilled to be working once again with Maria.”

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