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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 16:04 GMT
McCutcheon quits My Fair Lady
Martine McCutcheon
McCutcheon received rave reviews for performances
Martine McCutcheon is quitting her West End role in My Fair Lady because of persistent throat problems.

The actress still has five months left to run on her contract but on the advice of doctors she has decided to leave.

The former EastEnder has been plagued by health problems during her eight-month stint as Eliza Doolittle.

Witches of Eastwick
Joanna Riding (second left) appeared in the Witches of Eastwick
Her last performance will be on 8 December, and the lead role will be taken by West End veteran Joanna Riding from 10 December.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the show's producer said it was with great regret McCutcheon was leaving early but praised her performances.

Her health problems have been blamed on a virus she picked up before the musical opened at the Royal National Theatre in March.

Break

She was forced to miss many performances and her role was often understudied to critical acclaim by 18-year-old Alexandra Jay.

When the production transferred to the Theatre Royal, McCutcheon continued to sit out a number of performances.

Martine McCutcheon as Eliza Doolittle
McCutcheon's last performance will be on 8 December
She is now expected to take an extended break from acting

Sir Cameron said: "We have agreed to replace Martine from 10 December and subject to her health and her doctor's advice she will undertake as many of her scheduled performances as she can until that date."

Joanna Riding has previously starred in Guys and Dolls, Carousel and The Witches Of Eastwick.

Sir Cameron said ticket holders who had specifically booked to see McCutcheon in the role could apply for a full refund on their tickets before 30 November.

See also:

26 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Singer Martine exhausted
22 Mar 01 | Showbiz
Ill McCutcheon forced off stage
24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
From EastEnders to Eliza
08 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Illness keeps McCutcheon off stage
15 Mar 01 | Entertainment
McCutcheon shines in Eliza debut
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