The Old Vic today announced that, due to ill health, John Normington (pictured) has had to withdraw from The Entertainer under doctors’ orders. The role of Billy Rice, father to Robert Lindsay’s music hall performer, will be played by his understudy David Baron until the end of the extended run on Saturday 26 May 2007.

Director Sean Holmes said: “John received universal acclaim for his performance and will be greatly missed from the show. Everyone at the Old Vic wishes him a speedy recovery. As John’s understudy, David has been covering the role of Billy Rice for the past week or so and we’re delighted that he’ll be continuing for the remainder of the run”.

The 50th anniversary revival of John Osborne’s classic opened to rave reviews on The Entertainer, starring Robert Lindsay as Archie Rice 7 March 2007 (following previews from 23 February) and had originally been booking until 19 May, with an extra week added last month (See News, 16 Mar 2007).

Set in the 1950s in a society on the brink of change and at war over the Suez Canal, Osborne's drama follows embittered and struggling music hall comedian Archie Rice – created on stage and screen by Laurence Olivier - trying to keep a semblance of happiness within his dysfunctional family. In addition to Lindsay, the production features Emma Cunniffe, David Dawson and Pam Ferris as Archie’s long-suffering wife.

- by Terri Paddock