Kenneth Branagh has recast the role of Billy Rice after actor, John Hurt, has had to withdraw, on doctor’s advice, from the KBTC production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer.
Hurt was due to play Billy Rice in Rob Ashford’s production, which begins preview performances at the Garrick Theatre on August 20. The part will now be played by Gawn Grainger.
Kenneth Branagh will play Archie Rice alongside Phil Dunster as Graham, Jonah Hauer-King as Frank Rice, Crispin Letts as Brother Bill, Sophie McShera as Jean Rice and Greta Scacchi as Phoebe Rice.
Further casting also includes Lauren Alexandra, Yasmin Harrison, Pip Jordan and Kate Tydman as dancers.
Commenting on his withdrawal, John Hurt said: “I have recently been in hospital with an intestinal complaint and although I am much improved and on the road to a full recovery, my doctors have advised that it is too soon for me to undertake a lengthy and arduous stage role. It is therefore with great sadness and disappointment that I must withdraw from The Entertainer.
“I would like to send Ken, Rob and the entire company my love and very best wishes for a happy and successful production of a wonderful play.”
The Entertainer, part of the Plays at the Garrick season, runs from August 20-November 12.