Friday, August 5, 2011

Julian Ovenden Officially Withdraws from 'Death'

At the official presentation of the cast to the press on May 12 are
Julian Ovenden with Jill Paice, who co-stars in the musical.
(photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.)
Ovenden and Paice in a scene from the musical 'Death Takes a Holiday'
(photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.)
Once in a while the misfortune for one actor becomes the fortune of another. Such is one aspect of live theatre. A month ago I attended a preview performance of the Off-Broadway musical 'Death Takes A Holiday' starring British actor Julian Ovenden in his American musical debut as the title character. The New York City press reported this week that Ovenden has officially withdrawn from the production due to ongoing throat illness that prevented him from appearing in more than a dozen performances. One of those performances including opening night.

The 35-year old Ovenden played the title character of the grim repair in the dark musical. The official announcement of Ovenden's departure included this statement from the actor: "With respect to the cast and the audiences, I have decided to withdraw from the production. I have a great amount of respect for my fellow actors and I am deeply saddened to have to say goodbye."

In my review of the preview performance on July 3 I reported that "(Ovenden) makes a suave and charismatic prince and coupled with his attractive tenor he is a leading musical actor in the making." The Roundabout Theatre Company, which is presenting the new musical by composer Maury Yeston, officially announced the loss of Ovenden on August 3rd. A spokesman for the Roundabout said, "Due to Julian's indisposition he is regrettably unable to continue in the production." Kevin Earley, a Chicago actor with some New York theatre credits, who was understudying the role will continue to play the remaining performances. The musical's limited engagement ends September 4.

Initial reports indicated that Ovenden was suffering from laryngitis. Earley has performed the role since July 19 and played part of the opening night on July 21. However because Ovenden performed the role for the press during previews, all of the New York critics reviews refer to his work. Ovenden attempted to return on August 2 but could not get beyond the opening moments of the show based on reports from those in attendance. Earley stepped in after a pause.

'Death Takes A Holiday' began previews on June 10 at the Laura Pels Theatre. After the opening performance, Ovenden was though to return as early as July 25. He played Friday July 29 and the Saturday matinee on July 30 after which Ovenden sat out the remaining weekend performances.

It was announced today that PS Classics will record the musical on August 8. Earley will perform the role for the recording.  The CD Release date is not yet announced.

Click HERE to read my stage door meeting with Ovenden.

Kevin Earley with Jill Paice after the opening
night performance.
(photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.)
Paice and Earley at the opening night curtain call.
(photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.)


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