Performances of When Harry Met Sally have been cancelled for tonight and tomorrow (Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 May) in order to carry out “essential maintenance work” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (pictured), following an accident during Saturday evening’s show.

According to reports over the weekend, pandemonium broke out just after 10.00pm on Saturday when, towards the end of the performance, the auditorium’s chandelier broke loose and plaster from the ceiling started to rain down on the capacity audience.

Luke Perry, who stars as Harry, leapt from the stage to assist theatregoers in evacuating the theatre. According to early media reports, ambulances were called and up to 15 people were hurt, but the theatre has since declared that no serious injuries were sustained. The matter is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

In a statement released yesterday, Theatre Royal chairman Arnold M Crook said: "We are of course extremely concerned by what happened and we extend our sympathy to all audience members affected. Our experts are at the moment investigating the cause of the incident and in the meantime we have taken the decision to cancel performances on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th May."

When Harry Met Sally’s producer James Tod added: "One of the reasons I chose the Theatre Royal for this production was for the renowned beauty of the auditorium which I know to be relentlessly maintained. I will be doing my best to follow up on the progress of those audience members affected by what happened. In the meantime, I have full confidence in the management of the Theatre Royal Haymarket".

Theatregoers booked for today or tomorrow will be offered refunds or exchanges and should contact either their ticket agent or the theatre box office (0870 901 3356) for further information. Performances are expected to resume as normal from Wednesday 19 May.

- by Terri Paddock