Illness stops the show as Ute Lemper joins West End sick list

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The actress and singer Ute Lemper has become the latest star to be forced off the West End stage by illness.

Lemper – who made her name as the star of the musical Chicago – was forced to abandon her one-woman show Naughty Baby at the Savoy Theatre on Wednesday night after collapsing during an interval.

She is the latest high-profile casualty in the West End of London. Martine McCutcheon has been repeatedly absent from her leading role in Trevor Nunn's production of My Fair Lady, and in the same production Jonathan Pryce had to miss several performances last month because of a back injury.

Earlier this summer Ian McShane had to withdraw from The Witches of Eastwick at the Prince of Wales and Anna Friel was forced to miss several performances of Lulu at the Almeida because of a back injury.

On Wednesday night, Lemper felt dizzy during a dance movement but managed to make it to the interval before collapsing, it was reported. A suspected inner ear infection was thought to be the cause.

Members of the 800-strong audience were told that she could not continue with the show and an appeal was made for a doctor to go backstage to treat her. Last night's performance was cancelled but the theatre hoped the show would continue tonight.

The Time magazine theatre critic, James Inverne, was in the audience and said: "I have been told she was feeling ill from the start, but it certainly did not show. She was singing and dancing with her usual all-guns-blazing style. Then after the interval we were told she had collapsed."

Naughty Baby, which has had disappointing reviews, is meant to launch the latest album of the singer whose reputation is built on her recordings of Kurt Weill, and her Olivier award for performing as the murderess Velma Kelly in Chicago. The show opened on Monday and is scheduled to continue until 14 July.

Concern over the physical ability of Martine McCutcheon, a former actress in the television soap opera EastEnders, to maintain the hectic schedule required for her role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady has led doctors to order her to scale back her appearances.

She has agreed to reduce the number of shows from eight to six a week when the musical reopens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 21 July after transferring from National Theatre.

McCutcheon has been absent more times than she has been on stage and even her understudy, Alexandra Jay, had to be replaced by the understudy's understudy Kerry Ellis for five performances because of illness.