It started off like every company manager’s nightmare. A show’s star is taken ill (brief panic) but it’s okay, the understudy can step in for that night. Phew. But then, midway through the performance, the understudy is forced off stage, also ill. And now you have a West End theatre stuffed full of punters who are not overly happy about their night out looking suspiciously like it might end up being a night in.
Such was the predicament at Company (at the Gielgud Theatre) last week, with both Rosalie Craig and Jennifer Saayeng off and the musical left with a gaping hole where its lead actor should be.
Most shows would have brought the lights up, mumbled something about a refund and tried to get everyone out of there before the mysterious lurgy claimed any more victims. But then again, most shows don’t have Patti LuPone among the cast.
Never one to pass up an empty stage and a spotlight, LuPone shed the remainder of the c/Company and instigated an off-the-cuff solo concert, performing the entire show beginning to end in her iconic drawl.
Okay, so that last bit happened only in Tabard’s fantasy (not that implausible, to be fair), but LuPone did delight audiences with an a cappella version of the Sinatra crooner A Hundred Years from Today before sending them to the bar.
Give the people what they want, I say. And what they want, always, is the LuPone.