It’s every producer’s worst nightmare – the show’s about to open, everything’s tickety boo and then the star is taken ill at the 11th hour.
But that’s exactly what happened to Barry Hyde of Phoenix Players last week when his Oliver – 14-year-old Zack Boutwood of Wigmore – had to have emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
Barry said: “We never saw it coming. A voice breaking, yes, but not an appendix operation.
“Luckily we did understudy the lead role and Lucy King has now risen from the rank of orphan to Oliver.
“She’s an absolute trooper and has done wonders with the part, she’s made it her own.
“Zack has very kindly offered to give her top tips for her performance and has been hard at work with his expert support – the show must go on!”
Putteridge High pupil Zack is bitterly disapppinted he’s missing out on his first major role but is very gallant about Lucy taking over.
He said: “I’m really happy for her and she’s done amazingly well to learn all the lines.
“I’m still very involved with the show even though I won’t be appearing on stage. I’ll be singing along and cheering everyone on.”
Zack started getting crampy pains in his stomach after school last Tuesday (October 21).
He recalled: “When I got home I was lying on the bathroom floor in agony. The next thing I knew was in an ambulance going to the L&D for an emergency operation to remove my appendix.
“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” he added. “I’ve also missed my Grade 4 modern dancing exam.”
Being asked to take over the part came as a big surprise to Lucy, 13, of Westmorland Avenue.
The Icnield student said: “It’a shame for Zack but a great opportunity for me. It’s nerve wracking but also fun. I just hope I can do the role justice.
“I hope theatre will become a hobby . . . but I really want to be a lawyer.”
> Oliver! is at the Library Theatre from Thursday to Saturday (October 30 to November 1). More details from www.lutonphoenixplayers.co.uk/