The first preview performance of the West End revival of Chess faced an unexpected game-changer during intermission. Tim Howar, who stars as Freddie Trumper in the London production, learned that his wife Jodie Oliver had gone into labor and was rushed off to the hospital.
After an announcement to the audience, understudy Cellen Chugg Jones kicked off the second act with Freddie’s showstopper “One Night in Bangkok.” The production had also considered having director Laurence Connor go on with a script in hand, but Jones was willing to go on off-book, despite having no full rehearsal with the cast.
Jones finished the show to a standing ovation and “a massive cheer” at the curtain call, according to a representative for the production.
Howar and Oliver welcomed Hamish Rex, “all healthy and happy,” April 27; Howar is expected to return to the show, joining co-stars Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke, and Cassidy Janson, tonight.
The Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Time Rice musical will officially open May 1 at the London Coliseum, where it is scheduled to play through June 2. The production is produced by Michael Grade and Michael Linnit in collaboration with English National Opera.