UPDATED, 1.00pm 4 April 2005: This story has now been updated with an initial response from show producers. Further details will be added shortly.

Rocker’s wife and reality TV star Sharon Osbourne (pictured with husband Ozzy Osbourne) and her daughter Aimee Osbourne this weekend have dramatically pulled out of the cast of The Vagina Monologues. The women were due to make their West End debuts in the show (See News, 11 Jan 2005), which starts performances tomorrow (5 April) at Wyndham’s Theatre ahead of a scheduled press night this Thursday (7 April).

The Osbournes’ departure follows last week’s announcement that, owing to filming commitments, original co-star Naomie Harris would be replaced by Diane Parish (See News, 30 Mar 2005). In a statement issued on Friday night, the Osbournes explained: “Aimee has been taken ill and 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."

An initial response released this morning from The Vagina Monologues’ producers Mark Goucher and Sally Greene said they were “shocked” to read reports this weekend about the Osbournes’ withdrawal from the show. According to the new statement, “No communication to either inform or discuss this development has been made to the producers from Sharon Osbourne, her agent or her management and the producers are continuing as a matter of urgency to try to clarify the position.” The producers go on to say that, should the Osbourne statement “prove to be true”, they “will seek to replace” the mother and daughter, but there will be no refunds for theatregoers. The show will go on as planned from tomorrow night. The previously confirmed cast for the limited six-week season to 14 May 2005 also includes comedian Jenny Eclair.

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.

During its previous 15-month West End run, when it moved back and forth between the New Ambassadors and Arts Theatres between May 2001 and October 2002, the Olivier-nominated production featured regularly refreshed three-strong companies, which attracted stars such as Trudy Styler, Ruthie Henshall, Loretta Swit, Jerry Hall, Pam Ferris, Jenny Eclair, Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Amy Irving, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dannii Minogue, Kika Markham, Meera Syal, Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes, Suzanne Bertish, Elizabeth McGovern, Nina Wadia, Helen Lederer, Lauren Ward, Lisa Stansfield, Celia Noble, Donna Air, Jackie Clune and Anita Dobson.

Since then, The Vagina Monologues has toured the UK extensively, often featuring similarly high-profile casts. The show has also become a global phenomenon with multiple productions in over 25 countries and continuing open-ended runs in New York and Paris.

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). Sharon was also a judge on reality TV talent contest X-Factor.

Since their newfound MTV fame, the family has faced numerous trials and tribulations. Sharon has battled cancer, and Ozzy had a near fatal quad bike accident. Last year, the British-born couple’s Buckinghamshire mansion was burgled of an estimated £2 million’s worth of jewellery, and last week they had to flee the same home after a fire.

- by Terri Paddock