“Usher steps in to save the day!” heralded the email from Royal Court Liverpool today, and you can’t blame a girl for thoughts immediately turning to the R’n’B Oh My God sexyman of the same name (obligatory pic above).
Well, they didn’t mean him. But they had an interesting tale to tell anyway: “It is every producer’s worst nightmare,” they said. “An actor is taken ill halfway through a sellout run and there is no understudy available. What can you do?”
The venue’s festive show Little Scouse on the Prairie is still running for a few more weeks, but actress Rachel Rae, who plays the part of Donna Marie, fell ill with an ear infection over the new year and doctors have ordered that she has a week’s full rest.
Panic was averted when the Royal Court turned to their own front Of house staff list and saw the name of Jamie Hampson – star of their recent production of You’ll Never Walk Alone. And usher. How misleading.
She gamely stepped in, and having only picked up a script at midday on Tuesday, she was on stage at 8pm that night performing to a packed house.
Kevin Fearon, chief executive of Royal Court Liverpool said: “When Rachel fell ill we were in a really tricky situation. With so many people coming to the show we couldn’t cancel but Rachel needed time to recover.
“Jamie has been working here over Christmas and we know how good she is so we are delighted that she stepped in. She has seen the show plenty of times so was partially prepared for the role and her performances have been magnificent.”
Jamie says: “I was really surprised to get the call but I couldn’t turn it down. The show is so much fun to watch but it is even more fun to be up there on stage. Rachel is a good mate of mine so I hope that she gets better soon but in the meantime I’m made up to be filling in for her.”
Little Scouse On The Prairie recently extended and the show runs until January 21. Written by Fred Lawless, the full cast from last year’s hit, Scouse Pacific, have teamed up again along with director Bob Eaton and musical director Howard Gray.
Tickets and information for all productions are available from www.royalcourtliverpool.com or on 0870 787 1866.