O'Donnell Bows Out of Hollywood Bowl Les Miz Due to Family Emergency; Williamson Steps In

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28 Jul 2008

Ruth Williamson
Ruth Williamson
A family emergency has forced Rosie O'Donnell to withdraw from the imminent Hollywood Bowl presentation of Les Misérables in Concert. Broadway veteran Ruth Williamson has agreed to fill in for the Emmy-winning performer.

A statement from the Bowl explains O'Donnell has "regretfully withdrawn from the performances in order to care for her eldest son, who broke his wrist."

Williamson, who was last on Broadway playing Jacqueline in the revival of La Cage aux Folles, will now play the role of Madame Thénardier in the Aug. 8-10 performances at the famed Bowl.

Williamson has also been seen on Broadway in The Music Man (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Epic Proportions, Little Me, Guys and Dolls, Smile, Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 and Annie as well as the City Center Encores! mounting of DuBarry Was a Lady. Her Off-Broadway credits include The Green Heart (Drama Desk nomination), The English Teachers, Queen Amarantha, The Good Times Are Killing Me and The Leonard Bernstein Revue. On screen Williamson has been seen in "Legally Blonde II," "Easy Six", "Family Man," "Malcolm X," "Foreign Student," "Die Mommie, Die," "Psycho Beach Party," "Double Parked," "The O.C.," "The Practice," "Kingpin," "ER," "What I Like About You," "Enterprise," "Law & Order" and, like O'Donnell, "Nip/Tuck."

As previously announced, Richard Jay-Alexander, the Broadway producer-director who has staged concerts for Bernadette Peters, Barbra Streisand, Betty Buckley and Bette Midler, will direct Les Misérables in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Jay-Alexander returns to the epic musical having served as the associate director and executive producer of the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies of Les Misérables. The concerts will also feature musical direction by Kevin Stites, who was the musical director and conductor for the recent Broadway Les Miz revival; Stites will conduct the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.



The starry mix of stage and screen actors will boast J. Mark McVey as Valjean, a role the actor has played both on Broadway and in London's West End; Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, the star of Broadway's Ragtime, Man of La Mancha and Kiss Me, Kate, as Javert; Melora Hardin, the singer-actress who plays Jan Levinson on TV's "The Office," as Fantine; Spring Awakening's Lea Michele, who played the young Cosette in the original Broadway production of Les Miz, as Eponine; Jersey Boys Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young as Marius; Curtains' Michael McCormick as Thenardier; British actor Tom Lowe, whose West End credits include Les Misérables and Cats, as Enjolras; and Les Miserables' Michele Maika as Cosette with Sage Ryan (Robert Zemeckis' forthcoming "A Christmas Carol") as Gavroche and Maddie Levy (Oklahoma! and Oliver! at The Downey Civic Light Opera) as Young Cosette.

The Les Miz ensemble will include Barbara Chiofalo, Natalie Daradich, Travis Davidson, Joshua Finkel, Stephen Full, Julie Garnye, Joel Gelman, Sue Goodman, Daniel Guzman, Jennifer Naimo, Steve Mazurek, Lesley McKinnel, Weston Wells Olson, Ethan Le Phong, Patrick Reese, Eddy Rioseco, Tristan Rumery, Allyson Tucker and Darlene Williams.

The Hollywood Bowl is presenting Les Misérables in Concert by special arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh and Music Theatre International.

Originally produced by Cameron Mackintosh, Les Miserables was penned by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo. It features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel and additional material by James Fenton.

Les Miz was first presented by Cameron Mackintosh and The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican Theatre in October 1985. The musical transferred to the West End's Palace Theatre later that year, where it played for 19 years. The production transferred to the Queen's Theatre in April 2004, where it continues today.

The original Broadway production — directed and adapted by Trevor Nunn and John Caird with Richard Jay-Alexander as associate director — ran March 12, 1987-May 18, 2003. The musical won eight 1987 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The recent Broadway revival — also directed by Caird — played Nov. 9, 2006-Jan. 6, 2008.

The beloved score includes such tunes as "Bring Him Home," "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," " Master of the House," "Castle on a Cloud," "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "One Day More.

Show times at the Bowl are Aug. 8 and 9 at 8:30 PM and Aug. 10 at 7:30 PM.

The Hollywood Bowl is located at 2301 North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, CA. For tickets, call (323) 850-2000. Visit www.hollywoodbowl.com for more information.

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Rosie O'Donnell, who was last on Broadway in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof, made her Main Stem debut as Rizzo in the 1994 revival of Grease!, and she played a limited engagement as the Cat in the Hat in the Ahrens-Flaherty musical Seussical. The performer also spent some time on the other side of the footlights as producer of the Broadway version of Boy George's Taboo.

O'Donnell rose to fame as a stand-up comic before landing roles in such films as "A League of Their Own," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Flintsones" and "Exit to Eden." Her Emmy-winning talk show, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," ran from 1996 to 2001, and her more recent TV credits include appearances on "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk" as well as the made-for-television movie "Riding the Bus with My Sister" and the cable series "Nip/Tuck." She also spent a year as co-host of ABC-TV's "The View."

O'Donnell is married to Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell; the couple have four children. O'Donnell's autobiography is titled "Find Me"; her newest book is "Celebrity Detox."

Fox News recently reported that O'Donnell may revive the TV variety show, filming a live weekly program of skits, musical performances and various acts at a Broadway theatre.