Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends, which was scheduled to begin previews September 16 at the Gielgud Theatre, has delayed its first performance until September 21 following Haydn Gwynne's withdrawal from the company due to personal circumstances.
The rehearsal period has subsequently been extended while a replacement for the Billy Elliot star is found. The production hopes to announce Gwynne's replacement shortly.
In a statement producer Cameron Mackintosh said, "Matthew Bourne and I were naturally very distressed, along with our brilliant cast headed by Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga, to learn that Haydn Gwynne must suddenly withdraw from the production, for the immediate future at least. Haydn gave an unforgettable performance of 'Ladies Who Lunch' during the Old Friends Gala Premiere in May 2022 and has been an integral part of this very close-knit company ever since. Haydn will be very much missed, and we all send her our love. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused to our patrons who had bought tickets for the first few performances, particularly those coming from afar. All affected ticket holders will be contacted directly by the box office to make arrangements for you to see an alternative performance as quickly as possible."
The limited West End run of Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends—Mackintosh's tribute concert to late musical theatre trailblazer Stephen Sondheim that was presented May 3, 2022, at London's Sondheim Theatre—is currently scheduled to play the Gielgud through January 6, 2024.
Three-time Tony honoree Peters will again star, marking her West End debut. Peters will be joined by Tony winner Salonga (Miss Saigon, Here Lies Love) as well as Christine Allado, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley, Bradley Jaden, Bonnie Langford, Gavin Lee, Jason Pennycooke, Joanna Riding, Jeremy Secomb, Jac Yarrow, Marley Fenton, and Beatrice Penny-Touré with Harry Apps, Bella Brown, Richard Dempsey, and Monique Young.
Directed by Matthew Bourne side by side with Julia McKenzie, the production also features choreography by Stephen Mear, conducting by Alfonso Casado Trigo, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker, musical arrangements by Stephen Metcalfe, set design by Matt Kinley, projection design by George Reeve, costume design by Jill Parker, lighting design by Warren Letton, and sound design by Mick Potter.