'The show must go on': Panto boss steps up to the stage after Northampton actor takes ill just hours before show

A Northampton panto boss was forced to make his onstage debut this Christmas when one of his actors became seriously unwell with just hours before a show.

Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 1:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:49 pm
Show boss Kevin Roach - right - had to step up to the role of Baron Hardup with just hours before a show.

The Deco Theatre's run of Cinderella ran without a hitch for most of its billed nights in December.

But with a week of shows still to go and only hours until the next performance, the production's Baron Hardup - played by Northampton actor Clive Fletcher - was rushed to hospital with sepsis. It quickly became clear he would be too unwell to return.

The show's executive producer, Kevin Roach, was faced with finding an immediate replacement.

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But rather than call in an actor with no experience with the script or show, Mr Roach instead stepped up to the mark and put on The Baron's costume himself - even though his whole career had been behind the scenes rather than onstage.

Mr Roach said: "We had two shows to do that day, so I had to make an extremely quick decision.

“I knew the show, so I decided I was probably the best option. That said, I quickly realised that knowing the show and knowing the script were two different things, but I got through those two shows, and then grew into it.

“The cast was brilliant and incredibly supportive, and the audiences were fantastic too – and also extremely generous in their kind comments on social media.

"In the end, I can honestly say I almost enjoyed it, though I would like to go on record and say that my career will not now be taking a new turn – I’m more than happy doing what I do.”

Mr Roach played the role for seven shows in all before the panto ended its run on December 29.

Meanwhile, Clive Fletcher is now back home and is set to make a full recovery.