A year after dramatically pulling out of The Vagina Monologues just days before its West End opening, rocker’s wife and reality TV star Sharon Osbourne seems to have made up with the show’s producers. She’s agreed to appear in Eve Ensler’s play for two weeks only – from 27 March to 1 April 2006 at Theatre Royal Newcastle and 3 to 8 April at the Mayflower, Southampton – marking her regional theatre debut.

Sharon and her daughter Aimee Osbourne were due to make their West End debuts in the The Vagina Monologues when it returned to London for a six-week season at Wyndham’s Theatre last spring (See News, 11 Jan 2005). But the weekend before opening night, they independently issued a statement to the press saying that Aimee had been taken ill (later identified as a breast cancer scare that proved benign) and, as a consequence, “the family are therefore flying back home to LA so that she can have further treatment and rest. They hope everyone understands and would be very grateful for privacy at this sensitive and difficult time for them. They apologise profusely for letting the cast down and wish them all the very best for the upcoming production."

It transpired that the Osbournes had not communicated this development to show producers, who were “shocked” to read media reports of the stars’ departure. After several days of failed attempts to reach the Osbournes and clarify situation, the show was hastily recast and went ahead as planned. The producers subsequently pursued legal action against the Osbournes.

Today, a show spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that “we’re absolutely thrilled to have Sharon back”. However, the star’s involvement did not prompt the regional dates, which had already been booked. In addition to Newcastle and Southampton - where Osbourne will appear with Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley and a third female personality still to be confirmed - the production will visit Birmingham (31 January to 4 February), Chester (10 to 13 May), Cardiff (15-20 May) and Truro (24 to 27 May).

The Vagina Monologues, subtitled "An Anthropological Exploration", reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The material was gathered from hundreds of intimate interviews, conducted by Eve Ensler, in which women were asked probing questions such as "If it (your vagina) could talk, what would it say?". The author originally performed the monologues as a one-woman show.

Prior to last year’s limited run, The Vagina Monologues spent 15 months in the West End, moving back and forth between the New Ambassadors and Arts Theatres between May 2001 and October 2002. It has toured almost continuously featuring constantly refreshed three-strong companies, including the likes of Trudy Styler, Jerry Hall, Jenny Eclair, Maureen Lipman, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Kika Markham, Meera Syal, Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes, Suzanne Bertish, Jackie Clune, Rula Lenska and Anita Dobson.

Wife of heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne became a household name in her own right after the success of MTV’s fly-on-the-wall show The Osbournes, which followed the daily ups-and-downs of life in heavy-metal veteran Ozzy’s family (eldest child Aimee was the only one not to appear). She followed that up with stints as a judge on reality TV talent contest The X-Factor. Her recently released life story Extreme: My Autobiography has become a hardback bestseller.

At Birmingham, Anneka Rice, Michelle Collins and Nina Wadia will star in The Vagina Monologues. No further casting for the subsequent dates has yet been confirmed. The tour is produced by Mark Goucher and James Woods.

- by Terri Paddock