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Michael Ball as Count Fosco, The Woman in White

Michael Ball, scheduled to appear from 22nd February (see press release below) began his run covering for Michael Crawford from last night.

Michael Ball made a surprise, unannounced appearance to a rapturous reception!

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PRESS RELEASE

Michael Ball to guest star as Count Fosco making his debut in the show on Tuesday 22nd February for a limited six week season.

Stage and recording star Michael Ball will guest star as Count Fosco in the hit West End musical The Woman in White at the Palace Theatre for six weeks, starting officially on Tuesday 22nd February although it is anticipated that he may be able to join the show earlier. Michael Ball says “I am delighted to have been offered this opportunity. Stepping into the great Michael Crawford’s shoes represents an enormous challenge and I am thrilled to be working once again with Maria”.

Michael Crawford, currently playing the role, has been forced to take a temporary break due to illness. Crawford has been laid low by an acute ‘flu’ virus and is under doctor’s orders not to return to work until he has made a complete recovery. He today expressed his frustration at being unable to appear, having established a legendary record for his West End appearances across four decades. Crawford aims to return to the show in early April and will then play the role until the end May.

The producers of The Woman in White, Sonia Friedman Productions and The Really Useful Theatre Company, are delighted that they have been able to arrange this casting at such short notice, especially as this will reunite Michael Ball and Maria Friedman, who had such a success together in the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion.

Currently playing to packed houses, The Woman in White has just been nominated for five Olivier Awards, including ‘Best New Musical’.

The Woman in White stars Maria Friedman as Marian, with Martin Crewes as Walter Hartwright, Angela Christian as Anne Catherick (‘the Woman in White’), Oliver Darley as Sir Percival Glyde, Jill Paice as Laura Fairlie and Edward Petherbridge as Mr Fairlie.

The Woman in White opened at the Palace Theatre on 15th September last year and has played to sell-out houses ever since.

“I Believe My Heart” from The Woman in White was a hit single for Duncan James and Keedie at the end of last year.

“A compelling tale of love, betrayal and greed, The Woman in White is a stunning new musical. Walter Hartright’s life is changed forever after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed in white, desperate to reveal her chilling secret. When he takes up his position as drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie and her half sister, Marian, he sees in Laura’s face an eerie reflection of the forlorn creature he previously met.

Walter and Laura’s feelings for each other are thwarted by her engagement to the sinister Sir Percival Glyde. What is the connection between Laura, Sir Percival and the woman in white? Is Sir Percival’s friend Count Fosco, with his unusual taste for white mice and poison, really as charming and well-meaning as he seems. Can true love prevail?”

This new musical has been adapted for the stage by Charlotte Jones, whose award-winning plays include Humble Boy, with lyrics by David Zippel, whose credits include City of Angels and the Disney classics Mulan and Hercules. Andrew Lloyd Webber has composed the captivating and romantic new score. Internationally renowned director Trevor Nunn, responsible for, amongst others, Cats, Starlight Express, Les Misérables and, recently, Anything Goes, has directed the production. The revolutionary design is by William Dudley.

Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White was one of the most influential and successful Victorian novels and quickly became a phenomenon. Since its publication in 1860, it has never been out of print and generations of readers have been thrilled by its suspense and excitement.

The Woman in White is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and The Really Useful Theatre Company.

Performance times will be Mondays-Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets, priced from £15-£50, are available from the Palace Theatre Box Office on 0870 895 5579.

Posted on: 2nd March 2005

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