Cast Illnesses Lead to Cancellations of Rent and Matilda Performances in London

News   Cast Illnesses Lead to Cancellations of Rent and Matilda Performances in London
Shows have been curtailed, canceled, or changed to concert stagings following multiple illnesses.
Billy Cullum (centre) as Mark with the cast of RENT. Credit Matt Crockett (3)Rent_London_20th_Anniversary_11_HR.jpg
Billy Cullum and cast Matt Crockett

Cast illnesses have led to curtailed and canceled performances for both Matilda and Rent in London.

At the St. James Theatre, the current 20th anniversary production of Rent was forced to cancel its performance December 21 after four cast members were taken ill as well as the musical supervisor. When a fifth member of the company was taken ill December 22, both scheduled performances went ahead as concert performances instead of as full performances.

In a statement from the producers, they explained: “Sadly, four people, including one of the leads, his understudy and the musical supervisor had combinations of gastroenteritis and flu, which meant we were unable to go ahead with [Wednesday's] performance. We only became aware of the understudy and musical supervisor's illnesses an hour before curtain up. We are very sorry that we had to cancel the performance, particularly as the season at St. James Theatre is sold out. However, we offered the audience refunds and the production will be going back out on tour in February, including to places close to London such as Bromley, Woking and Tunbridge Wells, so we hope people might be able to see the show at one of these venues instead. A fifth company member has been taken ill [Thursday], so both performances [December 23] will be concert versions of the production.”

At Matilda, running at the Cambridge Theatre, the December 21 matinee was brought to a halt about 30 minutes into the performance, and an announcement made said the young actress playing Matilda was unable to sing the rest of the songs, so would speak the lyrics instead. But after the intermission, another announcement was made that the actress' voice had deteriorated further so the performance would be cut short. The rest of the cast then performed three songs from the second half of the show while a member of the production team narrated the story.

The evening performance was subsequently canceled entirely. In a statement, the producers said the cancellation was “due to multiple illnesses in the cast including principal child performers and their understudies. The health and well being of the company, which of course includes a number of young cast members, is of utmost importance to the producers. Despite having investigated all available options, we have had to make the difficult and unavoidable decision to cancel the show this evening.”

Matilda will play December 23 as originally planned.

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