Third London Show Hit By Illness

News   Third London Show Hit By Illness A third major London production has been hit by illness. Tara Fitzgerald, who was scheduled to appear in the recently announced double bill of Pinter's The Lover and The Collection, has withdrawn because of what was described in a press announcement as a "serious bronchial infection."

Gina McKee, who appeared in Pinter's play Old Times at the Donmar Warehouse, will take over for Fitzgerald. McKee is also well known as the wheelchair-bound Bella in the movie "Notting Hill."

McKee joins a cast that includes Charlie Cox (of the movie "Stardust"), Richard Coyle and Timothy West.

Despite the cast change, the two short plays, directed by Jamie Lloyd (The Caretaker), will still open at the Comedy Theatre on Jan. 29, 2008, following previews that begin Jan. 15.

This is the third production to be hit by chest infections. The opening night of the Menier Chocolate Factory's revival of La Cage aux Folles has twice been postponed because leading cast member Douglas Hodge is suffering from a "severe bronchospasm."

Meanwhile, another chest infection has kept Sandi Toksvig away from Stephen Fry's new version of Cinderella, which was due to open Dec. 9. Hurriedly issued missives to critics that morning postponed the press performance. Comedienne and broadcaster Toksvig, who plays the narrator in Fiona Laird's production, returned to the show Dec. 12. La Cage aux Folles was originally due to open on Dec. 3, but a chest infection suffered by several cast members caused an initial postponement of the press night. Hodge's condition resulted in a second postponement. The musical is now scheduled to open on Jan. 9, 2008.

In the meantime, Hodge's understudy, Spencer Stafford, has continued to play the role of gay lover Albin opposite Philip Quast's Georges.

Playbill.com has learned that Hodge is recovering and intends to join the production soon.

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