The producers of The Audience today announced Robert Hardy's decision to withdraw from the production. Hardy, 87, recently suffered a fall and cracked some ribs, yet continued to perform at all of the preview performances last week. Over the weekend he has decided that a schedule of eight performances a week over a long run is not sustainable and he has therefore reluctantly decided to stand down.
The Audience will continue to play at the Gielgud Theatre with Hardy's understudy, David Peart, playing the role of Winston Churchill and the producers are actively looking for an actor to replace Robert Hardy.
The director Stephen Daldry said "Robert Is one of theatre's great actors and for him to have accepted this challenge at his age speaks of his courage and commitment to the theatre. That he feels unable to continue is a great sadness to us all but we respect his decision and wish him a return to full health and strength very soon."
Joining Helen Mirren who plays The Queen in the world premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audience are Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown, Paul Ritter as John Major and Rufus Wright as David Cameron. The Equerry is Geoffrey Beevers and the role of Young Elizabeth is played by Bebe Cave, Maya Gerber and Nell Williams. David Peart plays James Callaghan who is joined by ensemble members Jonathan Coote, Ian Houghton and Charlotte Moore.
The Audience began previewing at the Gielgud Theatre on 15 February 2013, with press night on 5 March 2013 and is booking to 15 June 2013. Designs are by Bob Crowley with lighting by Rick Fisher, sound by Paul Arditti, music by Paul Englishby and video by Ian William Galloway.
For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace - a meeting like no other in British public life - it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.
The Audience breaks this contract of silence and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional - sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. In turn, the Queen can't help but reveal her own self as she advises, consoles and, on occasion, teases.
From young mother to grandmother these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.
The Audience is produced in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries.
The producers would like to thank Robert Hardy for his extraordinary contribution to the production and they wish him a speedy recovery.