Simon Ward has withdrawn from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre due to a virus, telling the Daily Telegraph it was with "enormous regret". He is replaced in the production by Michael Feast.
Feast takes over in the role of Alfred Doolittle, the dustman father of Cockney flower girl Eliza, played by Kara Tointon.
Ward, the star of Young Winston and All Creatures Great and Small had temporarily been replaced in the play by understudy Brendan Hooper, with previews having started on 12 May ahead of opening night on 25 May 2011.
Hooper will remain in the role until 23 May.
Feast's theatre credits include Plague Over England at the Duchess, The Accused at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Macbeth in the West End, Broadway and The Chichester Festival Theatre; The Forest, The Tempest, No Man's Land, American Buffalo, Dispatches and Watch It Come Down at the National; Faust, Measure for Measure and Murder in the Cathedral for the RSC and Phaedra at the Donmar Warehouse. His film and television credits include Silent Witness, Penelope, Long Time Dead, Young Vlades, Sleepy Hollow and Velvet Goldmine.
Announced as having joined the cast only a month ago, Ward was due to star alongside Rupert Everett as Professor Henry Higgins, Kara Tointon as Eliza, Diana Rigg as Mrs Higgins and Peter Eyre as Colonel Pickering.
Ward's recent theatre credits include The Madness Of King George III, The Winslow Boy, A Touch of Danger and An Ideal Husband, while his many TV credits include Judge John Deed, The Tudors
The West End transfer of the Chichester Festival Theatre production is presented by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres, Duncan C Weldon & Paul Elliot in association Carole Winter and Michael Edwards for MJE Productions and the Theatre Royal Haymarket Company.