As much as everyone is curious to see how Raquel Welch will play the the Victor side of Victor/Victoria, some theatregoers are breathing a sigh of relief that Julie Andrews will stay with the show one week past her announced final date.
Instead of finishing her term June 1, she'll stay on till June 8, specifically to make up for the May 8-May 15 week she missed due to a bruised vocal cord. Andrews returned for the May 16-17 shows, with the Sunday matinee played, as always on Sunday mats, by understudy Anne Runolfson.
Patrons who wouldn't settle for an understudy or replacement became irate when the theatre couldn't squeeze in their requests to change tickets to another Andrews performance. Raquel Welch will begin performances June 10, with an official opening in the role set for June 26.
The producers of Victor/Victoria have been on tricky legal ground with Andrews' medical ills. As reported in the April 4 Wall Street Journal, Blake Edwards, Tony Adams, John Scher, Endemol Theatre Productions, Inc., and Polygram Broadway Ventures, Inc., are suing Lexington Insurance Company for rescinding its policy on the show.
The policy, for a $157,985 premium, guaranteed payment of up to $2 million as compensation for revenue lost when star Julie Andrews misses performances. They must also pay $8.5 million if Andrews has to abandon the show altogether. The insurers get a break -- there's a 2-show deductible. That is, Andrews has to miss two shows in a row before the company must pay out.
Trouble began in January 1996 when Andrews missed 10 performances due to a sore throat. Weeks later, a gallbladder operation that sidelined the star for three weeks cost the insurance company nearly $1 million.
The insurance company began to balk at paying out its entire policy and are claiming that Andrews lied when filling out the initial forms for the policy. She answered "no" to a question about past histories of asthma and other bronchial problems, and "no" to a question about disorders of muscles, bones, back, spine and neck.
At issue: Was Andrews telling the truth, and if so, why has she missed so many performances (aside from taking a month-long vacation, during which Liza Minnelli stepped in as Victoria Grant)? Or was the actress fibbing about the quality of her health to make sure her performance would be insured and the show could go on?
According to Newsday, Victor/Victoria has a personal investment of more than $2 million by Andrews' husband and the show's director, Blake Edwards.
With Peter Cromarty out of the country on vacation, the Cromarty & Company press office had no comment (April 4) on the lawsuit.
Andrews, 61, has given more than 600 performances in the show. On June 10, Raquel Welch takes over the woman-playing-a-man-playing-a woman lead.
For tickets and information on Victor/Victoria call (212) 307 4100.