An actor in the new staging of Les Misérables stepped in to save the show after he was called on to cover the lead role of Monsieur Thénardier with just two hours of rehearsal.
The performance marked the West End debut of Mark Pearce and was hailed by producer Cameron Mackintosh as one of the best he has seen in 35 years.
After being told he was needed to go on, a new costume had to be created for him, as well as a wig, all with just a few hours before the curtain went up.
Pearce had been set to play Brujon in the production, which replaces the original Les Misérables and had its first performance at the newly opened Sondheim Theatre on December 18.
On the afternoon of the musical’s planned reopening, he was told at 1.30pm that he would be needed to cover Thénardier, and came into rehearse the role at 2.30pm for two hours. Wigs and costumes were being made for him at the same time, and he ended up going on in the role that evening.
According to his agent, Katherine Stonehouse, producer Cameron Mackintosh told him he had given “one of the best Dog Eats Dogs” he had seen in 35 years.
Pearce told The Stage: “There were butterflies on the barricade. From getting ‘the call’ at 2:30pm, I had three hours to master the Master of the House. The entire team rallied round, from wigs to mics – even a new costume was made.”
He added: “Cameron and Claude[-Michel Schönberg] were so encouraging and as the final piece of wallpaper in the theatre went up, so did the curtain. I loved every minute, as my West End debut of a new show on Shaftesbury Avenue, with two hours’ rehearsal. Afterwards we toasted our team effort into the night.”