Two of this summer's biggest musical revivals - Chichester Festival's production of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret and the London production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Royal Festival Hall - have been hit by last-minute cast upsets. Both productions, due to open in the next few weeks, have lost their leading men and been forced to enlist last-minute replacements.

The trouble for Cabaret, the racy musical set in a pre-WWII Berlin nightclub, started last week (See News, 11 Jul 02) when director Lucy Bailey "left" - some say walked out, some say kicked out - following "artistic differences" over just how raunchy she was permitted to make one of the show's musical numbers. She was replaced by Roger Redfarn, who directed the festival's much less controversial 2000 musical, Song of Singapore.

Since then, several members of the Cabaret have protested over what they viewed as Bailey's unfair treatment by handing in their own resignations. These include leading man Robin Laing, who plays lover and aspiring writer Cliff Bradshaw, as well as the designer Angela Davis, lighting designer Jon Buswell and dancer Gil Cohen-Alloro.

Laing will now be replaced by William Rycroft (recent credits include Richard III at the Sheffield Crucible), who joins existing cast members Alexandra Jay (best known as Martine McCutcheon's reliable understudy in My Fair Lady) as Sally, the role immortalised by Liza Minnelli in Bob Fosse's 1972 Oscar-winning film, and Julian Bleach (star and co-creator of Shockheaded Peter) as the Emcee. The production is sticking to its original performance schedule with an opening on 31 July 2002, following previews from 25 July. It runs in repertory until 5 October.

Meanwhile, up in London, Follies has lost its big-name star, American Clarke Peters, well known for his show Five Guys Named Moe, which he conceived, as well as other West End musicals such as The Witches of Eastwick, Chicago and Guys and Dolls. Peters’ billing in the four-week season this August was only confirmed last month, but he has now had to withdraw "due to previous commitments in the United States which he didn't realise would clash".

Peters is replaced by David Durham (Jesus Christ Superstar, Dick Whittington) as Ben, old flame to Kathryn Evans' aging showgirl Sally. Other members of the cast, still on board, include double Olivier Award winner Henry Goodman (as husband Buddy), Louise Gold (Phyllis) and Diane Langton (Carlotta).

The new production, directed by Leicester Haymarket artistic director Paul Kerryson, is the first major London revival of Stephen Sondheim's 1971 Broadway musical in 15 years. Follies runs at the Royal Festival Hall from 6 August to 31 August 2002 (previews from 3 August).

- by Terri Paddock & Sarah Beamont