In what could have been a scene from the play, actor Peter Bowles has spectacularly quit the lead in a new comedy that opens in London’s West End in three weeks time.
He was to star in Stop!..The Play but Bowles, 78, a stage veteran whose credits include Sleuth, Hedda Gabler and The Entertainer, has left the production as rehearsals were about to begin… leaving the producers with a race against time to replace him.
Veteran actor James Woolley (right) has now stepped in to take his role in David Spicer’s madcap, theatrical comedy in which the worst night in the theatre becomes the most hilarious play in town.
It will still open as planned in the West End with a cast headed by Adam Riches (2011 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner) at Trafalgar Studio 2 for a four-week season from June 2.
Producer Timothy Beckmann, a former Reduced Shakespeare Company member, said: “It has been a bit of a nightmare… but just the sort of calamitous event that occurs in each scene of our play! Mr Bowles had a last-minute change of heart and we have to respect his decision.
“We are thrilled that another veteran of stage and screen, James Woolley, was available and stepped in at such short notice to save the day. Rehearsals are now going great guns.”
Stories in the national press today suggest Mr Bowles decided to quit after discovering that he would be acting with a cast of unknowns.
The cast features Adam Riches as The Leading Man, James Woolley (The Borgias) as The Seasoned Veteran, Tosin Cole (Hollyoaks) as The Hollywood Cameo, Hatty Preston (The Royals) as The Leading Lady, Hannah Stokely (Skyfall) as The Perennial Co-star, Charlie Cameron (National Theatre Macbeth) as The Stage Manager and Ben Starr (Survivor) as The Director.
The show previews in The Studio at Fairfield Halls, Croydon from May 26-30 before moving to Trafalgar Studios on June 2.