The Old Vic’s Christmas pantomime - the world premiere of a new version of Cinderella by Stephen Fry making his panto writing debut (See News, 22 Oct 2007) – has become the second major December production to delay its opening due to cast illness. The press matinee, which was scheduled to take place yesterday (Sunday 9 December 2007), was called off at short notice after Sandi Toksvig (pictured), who plays the Narrator, became unwell.

An Old Vic spokesperson said: “Sandi has come down with a chest infection which has made her too unwell to perform this weekend. Her understudy, Matthew White, has stepped into the role of Narrator. We felt that, in fairness to the company and to the production, the show should be reviewed, as rehearsed, with Sandi in this central role. We very much hope that Sandi makes a speedy recovery and that she will be back on stage soon.”

An alternative press performance has now been scheduled for this Thursday 13 December 2007. The production has been previewing since 4 December and continues its limited season until 20 January 2008. I>Cinderella’s press performance cancellation follows the double postponement of the Menier Chocolate Factory revival of La Cage Aux Folles whose star Douglas Hodge also contracted a serious chest infection. Its opening has now been delayed until the new year (See News, 28 Nov 2007).

This is the third consecutive year of Christmas pantomimes at the Old Vic, after the success of the past two seasons of Aladdin starring Ian McKellen as panto dame Widow Twankey. Cinderella marks the pantomime writing debut for actor, comedian, novelist and director Stephen Fry, who has “cheekily updated” the fairy tale for the 21st century. It features songs by film composer Anne Dudley and is directed by Fiona Laird.

In addition to Toksvig, the production features Pauline Collins (as the Fairy Godmother), Madeleine Worrall (Cinderella), Joseph Millson (Prince Charming), Paul Keating (Buttons), Debbie Chazen (the Queen), and Hal Fowler and Mark Lockyer as the Ugly Sisters.

The production is designed by Stephen Brimson-Lewis and choreographed by Francesca Jaynes, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, musical supervision by Neil McArthur, orchestrations by Steven Edis and Neil McArthur, musical direction by Michael Haslam, and sound by Nick Lidster and Terry Jardine for Autograph.

- by Terri Paddock