American comedienne Joan Rivers (pictured) has cancelled the return season for Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress at the new Leicester Square Theatre, where it was scheduled to play from 2 December 2008 to 29 January 2009 prior to a Broadway transfer (See News, 23 May 2008).

Rivers made her London acting debut in the self-penned autobiographical play, which relaunched the 420-seat Leicester Square Theatre (formerly The Venue) with a run from 29 August to 18 September 2008 which followed an extended sell-out stint at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Rivers was meant to do 75 performances in total in celebration of her 75th birthday earlier this year, but she called off the final dates over Christmas after a US television pilot she was working on has unexpectedly been commissioned for a full series. More than £50,000 of tickets have already been purchased already for the Christmas run of the show. Ticket holders should contact their point of sale for a full refund.

Producer Martin Witts said today: \"It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress will not have its full London run. Audiences and critics have been unanimous in their praise, and Joan and the cast never failed to get nightly standing ovations. We had initially hoped to just postpone the rest of the performances but can\'t get a commitment on exactly when this could be so we have decided to refund all tickets sold.\"

Part-confession, part-performance comedy drama, A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress presents the public Rivers from TV appearances and stand-up shows, as well as the private one. In her dressing room backstage at the Oscars ceremony, Rivers is preparing for one of her legendary annual TV catwalk commentaries on the fashion hits and disasters at Hollywood\'s biggest night of the year. But all is not well...

A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress is directed by the Right Size’s Sean Foley. The cast also included Emily Kosloski, Carrie Paff and Mark Philips. The play had its world premiere in Los Angeles this past February.

On her return visit, Rivers was also due to host the launch of the 2009 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards at Café de Paris on Friday 5 December (See News, 26 Jun 2008). An alternative guest presenter is now being sought and will be announced in due course.

- by Terri Paddock